Six cases of infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) in mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and moose (Alces alces) in Wyoming (USA) were investigated during fall and winter of 1995 and 1996. Excessive lacrimation, mucopurulent conjunctivitis, keratitis, and corneal opacity were observed in mule deer. Moose had severe mucopurulent conjunctivitis, keratitis, and corneal ulceration. Hemolytic, non-piliated Moraxella ovis was isolated from two mule deer and two moose. We attempted to reproduce IKC in three mule deer fawns using an isolate of M. ovis from a clinically affected mule deer. These fawns did not develop clinical signs of infection and the bacterium was not reisolated from inoculated deer. Inoculated deer may not have developed clinical signs because deer were not exposed to ultraviolet light or mechanical insult before inoculation. In addition, the isolate used for inoculation may have lost virulence factors through passage, or M. ovis may not have been the primary pathogen responsible for clinical disease in the natural cases of IKC we investigated. The etiology of IKC in free-ranging wild ruminants remains poorly understood.
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Vol. 36 • No. 2