Sera and genital swabs collected from 121 adult woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in five subpopulations in northern Alberta, Canada, between December 1997 and October 1999, were examined for evidence of infection with herpesviruses or pestiviruses. No virus was isolated from sera or swabs, and no antibodies against bovine viral diarrhea virus were detected. However, 63 (52%) of the 121 animals had neutralizing antibody titers against bovine herpesvirus 1. There was sufficient serum from 37 of the 121 caribou to allow parallel testing for antibodies against a new alphaherpesvirus isolated from an elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), and 20 animals had antibodies against this virus. Paired sera collected 11 mo apart from 14 caribou showed seroconversion in seven animals, indicating that an active herpesvirus infection was present. Virus neutralization data suggest that these caribou are infected with a distinct alphaherpesvirus.
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Vol. 41 • No. 4