Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) was diagnosed in four free-ranging mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in January and February of 2003. Diagnosis was based on typical histologic lesions of lymphocytic vasculitis and PCR identification of ovine herpesvirus-2 (OHV-2) viral genetic sequences in formalin-fixed tissues. The animals were from the Uncompahgre Plateau of southwestern Colorado. Deer from these herds occasionally resided in close proximity to domestic sheep (Ovis aries), the reservoir host of OHV-2, in agricultural valleys adjacent to their winter range. These cases indicate that fatal OHV-2 associated MCF can occur in free-ranging mule deer exposed to domestic sheep that overlap their range.
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