Blood samples were collected from seven species of free-ranging ungulates in Alaska. Sera were tested for evidence of exposure to malignant catarrhal fever viruses (MCFV) by means of a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Antibody prevalences were as follows: muskox (Ovibos moschatus) 100 positive samples of 104 tested (96%); Dall sheep (Ovis dalli) 212 of 222 (95%); elk (Cervus elaphus) 14 of 51 (27%); bison (Bison bison) 34 of 197 (17%); caribou (Rangifer tarandus) nine of 232 (4%); Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) one of 49 (2%); and moose (Alces alces) three of 219 (1%). Antibody prevalence in a bison population from the Interior was stable over a 5 yr period. These results indicate that at least one virus in the MCF group is enzootic in Dall sheep and muskox in Alaska. Lower antibody prevalences in the other species in this survey suggest that MCFV are latent or subclinical in these free-ranging ruminants. Whole blood samples were collected from 14 Dall sheep and subjected to a polymerase chain reaction assay. Fragments of ovine herpesvirus-2 DNA were detected in six of the samples. The significance of these findings for the health of free-ranging ungulates in Alaska is unknown.
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Vol. 38 • No. 3