An apparently novel adenovirus was associated with an epizootic of hemorrhagic disease that is believed to have killed thousands of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in California (USA) during 1993—1994. A systemic vasculitis with pulmonary edema and hemorrhagic enteropathy or a localized vasculitis associated with necrotizing stomatitis/pharyngitis/glossitis or osteomyelitis of the jaw were common necropsy findings in animals that died during this epizootic. Six black-tailed yearling deer (O. hemionus columbianus) were inoculated with purified adenovirus isolated from a black-tailed fawn that died of acute adenovirus hemorrhagic disease during the epizootic. Three of six inoculated deer also received intramuscular injections of dexamethasone sodium phosphate every 3 days during the study. Eight days post-inoculation, one deer (without dexamethasone) developed bloody diarrhea and died. Necropsy and histopathologic findings were identical to lesions in free-ranging animals that died of the natural disease. Hemorrhagic enteropathy and pulmonary edema were the significant necropsy findings and there was microscopic vascular damage and endothelial intranuclear inclusion bodies in the vessels of the intestines and lungs. Adenovirus was identified in necrotic endothelial cells in the lungs by fluorescent antibody staining, immunohistochemistry and by transmission electron microscopy. Adenovirus was reisolated from tissues of the animal that died of experimental adenovirus hemorrhagic disease. Similar gross and microscopic lesions were absent in four of six adenovirus-inoculated deer and in the negative control animal which were necropsied at variable intervals during the 14 wk study. One deer was inoculated with purified adenovirus a second time, 12 wk after the first inoculation. Fifteen days after the second inoculation, this deer developed severe ulceration of the tongue, pharynx and rumen and necrotizing osteomyelitis of the mandible which was associated with vasculitis and thrombosis of adjacent large vessels and endothelial intranuclear inclusions. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrated adenovirus within the nuclei of vascular cells and immunohistochemistry demonstrated adenovirus antigen within tonsilar epithelium and in rare vessels.
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Vol. 33 • No. 4