We conducted virologic investigations on postmortem specimens from 261 free-living European bison (Bison bonasus) from the Bialowieza Primeval Forest, Poland collected between 1990 and 2000. Fifty-four of 94 males had balanoposthitis; none of the 167 female bison examined had reproductive tract lesions. Peripheral blood, swabs, and various tissues were analyzed for bovine viruses as well as for viral DNA by bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1) and bovine herpesvirus 4 (BoHV-4) specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. An infectious bovine rhinotracheitis like BoHV-1 strain was isolated from the spleen of a female bison calf and additionally was detected by nested PCR from splenic tissue. None of the bison had significant antibody titers against BoHV-1, bovine herpesvirus 2, BoHV-4, caprine herpesvirus 1, cervid herpesvirus 1, or bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) virus-1. However, low antibody titers in two animals indicate that this European bison population has been exposed to BVD virus or BVD-like viruses and BoHV-2.
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