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Department of Veterinary Sciences

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Malignant Catarrhal Fever

Sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is a sporadic viral disease of cattle and other ruminants that is due to ovine herpesvirus-2. It causes serious disease outbreaks of disease in high-value animals, particularly commercial bison, game farms and zoos. In collaboration with investigators at the Department of Microbiology at Washington State University (Drs. T Crawford and H Li), we have been examining the epidemiology of infection in cattle and sheep.  Recently the research group successfully reproduced the disease using the natural route of infection (aerosol) for the first time in bison, sheep and cattle by aerosol inoculation.  The goal is to develop a success control strategy using either natural resistance traits identified in bison, or a vaccine approach.

WSU maintains an excellent bibliography on MCF.

Investigator: D. O'Toole


  • Traul DL, Li H, O’Toole D, Eldridge JA, Besser TE, Davies CJ: 2006, Resistance to malignant catarrhal fever in Bison bison is associated with MHC class IIa polymorphism.  Animal Genetics.  Submitted.

  • D O'Toole, H. Li: 2005. Malignant catarrhal fever In: Foreign Animal Diseases, USDA Gray Book.  Eds: C Brown, A Torres.  In press.

  • Taus NS, Oaks JL, Gailbreath K, Traul DL, O’Toole D, Li H: 2006. Experimental aerosol infection of cattle (Bos taurus) with ovine herpesvirus 2 using sheep nasal secretion Veterinary Microbiology.  In press

  • Hong L., O’Toole D, Kim O, Oaks JL, Crawford TB: 2005,  Malignant catarrhal fever-like disease in sheep after intranasal inoculation with ovine herpesvirus-2.  J Vet Diagn Invest. 2005, 15:46-49.   Link to attached pdf: “sheep transmission”

  • Simon S, Li H, O'Toole D, Crawford TB, Oaks JL: The vascular lesions of a cow and bison with sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever contain ovine herpesvirus 2-infected CD8(+) T lymphocytes. J Gen Virol. 2003 Aug:84(pt 8):2009-13.

  • Malignant catarrhal fever in a bison (Bison bison) feedlot, 1993-2000: 2002, J Vet Diagn Invest. :14(3):183-93.

  • Li H, Snowder G, O'Toole D, Crawford TB: Transmission of ovine herpesvirus 2 among adult sheep. Vet Microbiol. 2000 Jan:71(1-2):27-35.

  • Crawford, T.B., Li, H., O’Toole, D.: Diagnosis of malignant catarrhal fever by PCR using formalin-fixed embedded-tissues. J Vet Diagn Invest. 1999 Mar:11(2):111-116. 

  • Crawford, T.B., O’Toole, D., Li, H. (1997). Malignant catarrhal fever. In: Current Veterinary Therapy Food Animal Practice 4, ed. Howard, J.L. W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, PA.

  • O’ Toole, D., Li, H., Miller, D., Williams, W.R., Crawford, T.B.: 1997, Chronic and recovered cases of sheep-associated malignant fever (MCF) in cattle. Vet Rec 140: 519 - 524.

  • Li, H., Shen, O'Toole, D., Davis, W.C., Knowles, D.P., Gorham, J.R., Crawford, T.B (1996): Malignant catarrhal fever virus: characterization of a U.S. isolate and development of diagnostic assays. Annal NY Acad Sci. Vector-Borne Pathogens, International Trade and Tropical Animal Diseases, eds. E. Camus, J.A. House, Uilenberg, G. vol. 791, 198 - 210.

  • O'Toole et al (1995) Chronic generalized obliterative arteriopathy in cattle: a sequel to sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 7:108 – 114.

  • Li et al (1995) Investigation of sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever virus infection in ruminants by polymerase chain reaction and competitive inhibition ELISA. J Clin Microbiol. 33(8):2048-2053.

  • Li et al (1996): Prevalence of antibody to malignant catarrhal fever virus in domestic and wild ruminants by competitive inhibition ELISA. J Wildl Dis 32(3): 437-443.

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University of Wyoming

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