Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is an ubiquitous disease of cattle and other ruminants caused by Ovine herpesvirus 2 (OvHV-2), which is endemic in sheep and transmitted from healthy carriers. Further viruses of the MCF group are also able to induce MCF in ruminants. As alpine pasturing is very common in Austria, possible contact with ruminant wildlife carrying and excreting MCF viruses might be suspected as an infection source. To investigate the epidemio-logic role of Austrian deer and chamois, spleen samples were collected from 55 red deer (Cervus elaphus), 72 roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), four fallow deer (Dama dama), and five chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) during the hunting seasons 2001–2003. Samples were tested by both herpesvirus consensus and OvHV-2–specific polymerase chain reaction. As all spleen samples tested negative, there is no indication that in the region and period investigated, MCF viruses circulated in wild ruminants.
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Vol. 45 • No. 2