November 2018

Signalment (JPC #2550468):  Heifer

HISTORY:  This animal had bilateral corneal edema, mucopurulent nasal discharge, enlarged peripheral lymph nodes and respiratory distress.

HISTOPATHOLOGIC DESCRIPTION:  Colon:  Multifocally, within the submucosa, small and medium caliber blood vessels are surrounded by thick cuffs of mononuclear inflammatory cells, which transmurally infiltrate and expand the tunica adventitia, and extend to a lesser degree into the tunica media, and tunica intima.  The infiltrate is composed primarily of large lymphocytes with a high nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio and large open nuclei with prominent nucleoli (lymphoblasts), small lymphocytes, fewer macrophages, and rare neutrophils admixed with moderate amounts of necrotic cellular debris and brightly eosinophilic hyalinized material (fibrinonecrotizing vasculitis). Multifocally tunica media myocytes have vacuolated sarcoplasm (degeneration) or are shrunken with bright eosinophilic cytoplasm and a pyknotic nucleus (necrosis).  The endothelium of these vessels is segmentally hypertrophic.  The lamina propria is infiltrated by moderate numbers of lymphocytes, lymphoblasts, plasma cells, macrophages, and fewer neutrophils, which widely separate crypts.  There is multifocal mucosal erosion. Multifocally, colonic crypts contain neutrophils and cellular debris (crypt abscesses).  The lamina propria is mildly expanded by lymphocytes and plasma cells. The submucosa and tunica muscularis are moderately expanded by increased clear space and ectatic lymphatics (edema).

MORPHOLOGIC DIAGNOSIS:  Colon:  Vasculitis, fibrinonecrotizing, lymphocytic and lymphoblastic, multifocal, moderate, with moderate chronic-active colitis, breed unspecified, bovine.

CAUSE:  Alcelaphine herpesvirus 1 (wildebeest associated) or ovine herpesvirus 2 (sheep associated)

CONDITION:  Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF); malignant head catarrh; and snotsiekte




Four clinical forms:

  1. Peracute: 1-3 day course with fever and possible hemorrhagic diarrhea
  2. Intestinal: 4-9 day course with fever, lymphadenopathy, diarrhea
  3. Head and eye: Typical form, longer duration than above with depression, high fever, profuse mucopurulent nasal discharge, dyspnea, ocular discharge, blepharospasm
  4. Mild: In experimental cases that recover






Gross differential diagnoses for oral or gastrointestinal ulcerative diseases:

Differential diagnoses for lymphoproliferation:


  1. Epstein-Barr virus (human herpesvirus 4):  Infectious mononucleosisin humans; associated with Burkitt’s lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma and Hodgkin’s disease
  2. Herpesvirus saimiri (saimiriine herpesvirus 2): Carried by squirrel monkeys; causes lymphoma in owl monkeys and marmosets
  3. Herpesvirus ateles (ateline herpesvirus 2): Carried by spider monkeys; causes lymphoma in owl monkeys and marmosets
  4. Herpesvirus sylvilagus (leporid herpesvirus 1): Lymphoma and infectious mononucleosis-like syndrome in cotton-tail rabbits
  5. Marmoset lymphosarcoma virus: Spontaneous fatal lymphoproliferative disease in captive marmosets; novel lymphocryptovirus


  1. Bildfell RJ, Li H, Alcantar BE, Cunha CW, et al. Alcelaphine gammaherpesvirus 1-induced malignant catarrhal fever in a Watusi (Bos taurus africanus) steer in a North American game park. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2017; 29(4):579-582.
  2. Cianciolo RE, Mohr FC. Urinary system. In: Maxie MG, ed. Jubb, Kennedy, and Palmer’s Pathology of Domestic Animals. Vol 2. 6th ed. Philadephia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:459-460.
  3. Headley SA, Pimentel LA, Oliveira VHS, Toma HS, et al. Transplacental transmission of ovine herpesvirus 2 in cattle with sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever. J Comp Path. 2015; 153(4):206-211.
  4. Keel KK, Patterson JG, Noon TH, Bradley G A, Collins JK. Caprine herpesvirus-2 in association with naturally occurring malignant catarrhal fever in captive Sika deer (Cervus Nippon). J Vet Diagn Invest. 2003:(15):179-183.
  5. Li H, Dyer N, Keller J, Crawford TB. Newly recognized herpesvirus causing malignant catarrhal fever in white-tail deer (Odocoileus virginianus). J Clin Micro. 2000;38:1313-1318.
  6. O’Toole D, Li H. The pathology of malignant catarrhal fever, with an emphasis on ovine herpesvirus 2. Vet Pathol. 2014;51:437-452.
  7. Otter A, Pow I, Reid HW. Outbreak of malignant catarrhal fever in Welsh black cattle in Carmarthenshire. Vet Rec. 2006:(151):321-323.
  8. Pesavento PA, Cunha CW, Li H, Jackson K, O’ Toole D. In situ hybridization for localization of ovine herpesvirus 2, the agent of sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever, in formalin fixed tissues. Vet Pathol. 2018; [Epub ahead of print].
  9. Pesavento PA, Dange RB, Ferreras MC, Dasjerdi A, et al. Systemic necrotizing vasculitis in sheep is associated with ovine herpesvirus 2. Vet Pathol. 2018; [Epub ahead of print].
  10. Phillips IL, Cunha CW, Galbraith D, Highland MA, et al. High copy number of ovine gammaherpesvirus 2 DNA associated with malignant catarrhal fever-like syndrome in a lamb. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2018; 30(4):623-627.
  11. Radostits OM, Gray CC, Hinchcliff KW, Constable PD. Veterinary Medicine: A Textbook of the Diseases of Cattle, Horses, Sheep, Pigs, and Goats, 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunder; 2007:1245-1248.
  12. Robinson WF, Robinson NA. Cardiovascular system. In: Maxie MG, ed. Jubb, Kennedy, and Palmer’s Pathology of Domestic Animals. Vol 3. 6th ed. Philadephia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:70.
  13. SAC C VS disease surveillance report: Skin lesions in a heifer with malignant catarrhal fever. Vet Rec. 2015; 177(2):40-43.
  14. Seeley KE, Junge RE, Jennings RN, Cunha CW, Li H. Moose (Alces alces) mortality associated with caprine herpesvirus 2 (CPHV-2) in a zoological collection. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2018; 49(3):774-778.
  15. Slater OM, Peters-Kennedy J, Lejeune M, Gummer D, et al. Sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever-like skin disease in a free-ranging bighorn sheep (Ovis Canadensis), Alberta, Canada. J Wildl Dis. 2017; 53(1):153-158.
  16. Smith BP. Malignant catarrhal fever (bovine malignant catarrh, malignant head catarrh). In: Smith BP, ed. Large Animal Internal Medicine. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:798-800.
  17. Uzal FA, Plattner BL, Hostetter JM. Alimentary system. In: Maxie MG, ed. Jubb, Kennedy, and Palmer’s Pathology of Domestic Animals. Vol 2. 6th ed. Philadephia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:131-136.
  18. Vikoren T, Klevar S, Li H, Hauge AG. A geographic cluster of malignant catarrhal fever in moose (Alces alces) in Norway. J Wildl Dis. 2015; 51(2):471-474.
  19. Zachary JF, McGavin MD. Pathologic Basis of Veterinary Disease, 5th ed. St. Louis, Missouri, Mosby Elsevier; 2007:219, 385, 846-847.

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