Our objectives were to examine the immunity conferred by epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus serotype 2 (EHDV-2) infection in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and determine if this immunity was protective during challenge with homologous (EHDV-2) or heterologous (bluetongue virus serotype 10; BTV-10) virus. Trials were conducted in the fall of 1992 and 1993. In the first experiment, naive white-tailed deer were infected intradermally and subcutaneously with EHDV-2 and monitored via physical examinations, complete blood counts, a and P interferon (IFN) assays, viral isolation, and serology. Infected deer had a wide range of clinical signs in response to infection. Eleven of the 16 deer had body temperature elevations ≥0.5 C between post-infection day (PID) 4 and 8. Infected deer had decreased lymphocyte counts between PID 6 and 10 that returned to normal levels by PID 17. Severely lymphopenic animals had the most severe clinical signs; five of 10 deer with lymphocyte counts less than 1000 cells/μl succumbed to the infection. Viremia was detected in all 16 EHDV-2 infected animals by PID 4, and peak viremias occurred between PID 4 and PID 10. Three deer remained viremic until PID 56, the study endpoint. Interferon was first detected between PID 2 and 6. Peak α and β IFN levels coincided with peak viremia in 11 deer. Precipitating and neutralizing antibodies were detected in infected deer by PID 10. In the second experiment, convalescent deer were challenged subcutaneously and intradermally with either EHDV-2 or BTV-10 and similarly monitored. Virus was detected in the blood of all four deer challenged with BTV-10, but viremia was not detected in three EHDV-2-challenged deer. Temperature fluctuations, blood cell parameter changes, and IFN and antibody responses seen in BTV-10-challenged deer were similar to those seen in the initial experiment. Deer challenged with EHDV-2 had mildly increased temperatures, but minimal IFN response and lymphocyte alterations.
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