Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Malignant catarrhal fever: an emerging disease in the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer).

Abstract

Within the tribe Bovini in the subfamily Bovinae, the water buffalo (Bubalus Bubalis), American bison (Bison bison), European bison (Bubalus bonasus) and yak (Bos grunniens) are recognized as species highly susceptible to malignant catarrhal fever (MCF). In contrast, the lack of reports describing clinical MCF in the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) whether free ranging or captive has led to a perception that African buffaloes are resistant to MCF. During the last decade, several cases of MCF in African buffaloes were confirmed in South Africa and experience with seven of these cases is described in this report. Detection of viral nucleic acid in blood or tissues was successful in six African buffaloes that suffered from clinical signs compatible with MCF. Four were positive for infection with ovine herpesvirus type 2 (the causative virus of sheep-associated MCF), and two were positive for alcelaphine herpesvirus type 1 (causative virus of wildebeest-associated MCF). Histopathological examination of tissue samples from all the animals yielded typical lesions that were consistent with those described for MCF in domestic cattle. Developments in the management of African buffaloes translocated from their traditional habitats have likely contributed to the identification of another susceptible host in the subfamily Bovinae.