February 2018

Signalment (JPC Accession #2236078):  Steer

HISTORY:  Tissue from a steer that developed fever, mucopurulent nasal discharge, corneal opacities, and oronasal erosions prior to death.

HISTOPATHOLOGIC DESCRIPTION:  Kidney:  Multifocally affecting vessels, predominantly small and medium-sized arteries, within the cortex and medulla, there is marked fibrinonecrotizing vasculitis.  The tunica intima is frequently discontinuous and replaced by necrotic debris.  The tunica media and adventitia are markedly expanded by hemorrhage, finely fibrillar to beaded or eosinophilic fibrin, homogenous material (edema), and cellular and karyorrhectic debris (necrosis). Transmigrating the tunica media and tunica adventitia and expanding the surrounding interstitium are high numbers of lymphoblasts, lymphocytes, fewer macrophages, occasional neutrophils and plasma cells that separate, surround and occasionally replace few surrounding glomeruli and tubules.  Leiomyocytes of the tunica media are frequently swollen and microvacuolated (degeneration).  Multifocally there is endothelial hypertrophy.  Multifocally, remaining adjacent tubular epithelial cells are either vacuolated and swollen (degeneration) or rarely hypereosinophilic and fragmented with pyknosis, karyorrhexis and karyolysis (necrotic).  Multifocally, the interstitium is moderately expanded by small aggregates of lymphocytes, plasma cells and macrophages.

Haired skin:  Multifocally affecting vessels within the dermis, the tunica intima is frequently effaced; and the tunica media and adventitia are markedly expanded by fibrin, edema, hemorrhage admixed with cellular and karyorrhectic necrotic debris (necrotizing vasculitis).  Multifocally, vessel lumina are partially to completely occluded by eosinophilic fibrillar fibrin entrapping erythrocytes and low numbers of inflammatory cells (fibrin thrombi). There is a perivascular, periadnexal and dermal infiltrate composed of numerous lymphoblasts, lymphocytes, fewer macrophages, occasional neutrophils and plasma cells that multifocally surrounds and separates skeletal muscle, adnexal glands and nerves (myositis, adenitis and perineuritis).  Individual rhabdomyocytes are either atrophic with shrunken rounded sarcoplasm or necrotic with hypereosinophilic fragmented sarcoplasm, prominent contraction bands, loss of cross striations, pyknosis, karyolysis or karyorrhexis. There is multifocal epidermal ulceration, necrosis, spongiosis, dermal edema and hemorrhage, and frequent intracorneal pustules containing sloughed keratinocytes, necrotic debris, moderate numbers of degenerate and non-degenerate neutrophils, fewer lymphocytes and macrophages (pustular epidermal necrosis).  Multifocally within the ulcerated epidermis and superficial dermis there are colonies of 1-2 um basophilic coccobacilli, and sporadic pigmented fungal hyphae (opportunistic overgrowth). 


  1. Kidney: Vasculitis, necrotizing, lymphoblastic, subacute, multifocal, severe, with lymphocytic interstitial nephritis and tubular degeneration, breed unspecified, bovine.
  1. Haired skin: Vasculitis, necrotizing, lymphoblastic, subacute, multifocal, moderate, with fibrin thrombi, necrotizing dermatitis, ulcerative epidermitis, intraepidermal pustules, mild myositis, adenitis and  perineuritis, breed unspecified, bovine.

ETIOLOGIC DIAGNOSIS:  Cutaneous and renal gammaherpesviral vasculitis.

CAUSE:  Alcelaphine herpesvirus-1 (AHV-1), Ovine herpesvirus-2 (OHV-2)

CONDITION:  Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF)  











  1. Bildfell RJ, Li H, Alcantar BE, 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. Callan RJ, Van Metre DC. Viral diseases of the ruminant nervous system. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 2004;20:327-362.
  3. Cianciolo RE, Mohr FC. Urinary system. In: Maxie MG, ed. Jubb, Kennedy and Palmer’s Pathology of Domestic Animals. Vol 2. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:459-460.
  4. Collins JK, Bruns C, Vermedahl T, et al. Malignant catarrhal fever: polymerase chain reaction survey for ovine herpesvirus 2 and other persistent herpesvirus and retrovirus infections of dairy cattle and bison. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2000;12:406-411.
  5. Constable PD, Hinchcliff KW, Done SH, Gruenberg W. Veterinary Medicine: A textbook of the Diseases of Cattle, Sheep, Pigs, Goats and Horses. Vol 2. 11th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier;2017:2076-2081.
  6. Detwiler M, Stahel A, Kruger S, et al. A possible case of caprine associated malignant catarrhal fever in a domestic water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) in Switzerland. BMC Vet Research. 2011;7:78.
  7. Fernandez PJ, White WR. Atlas of Transboundary Animal Diseases. Paris, France: OIE;2010:160-169.
  8. Gasper D, Barr B, Li H, et al. Ibex associated malignant catarrhal fever-like disease in a group of bongo antelope (Tragelaphus eurycerus). Vet Pathol. 2012 May;49(3):492-7.
  9. Headley SA, Pimentel LA, Oliveira VH, et al. Transplacental transmission of ovine herpesvirus 2 in cattle with sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever.  J Comp Pathol.  2015;153(4):206-211.
  10. Li H, Gailbreath K, Bender LC, West K, Keller J, Crawford TB. Evidence of three new members of malignant catarrhal fever virus group in muskox (Ovibos moschatus), Nubian ibex (Capra nubiana), and gemsbok (Oryx gazella). J Wildl Dis. 2003;39(4):875-80.
  11. Li H, Keller J, Knowles DP, Taus NS, Oaks JL, Crawford TB: Transmission of caprine herpesvirus 2 in domestic goats. Vet Microbiol. 2005;107(1-2):23-29.
  12. Osterrieder K. Herpesvirales.  In: MacLachlan NJ, Dubovi EJ, eds. Veterinary Virology. 5th ed. London, England: Academic Press; 2017:190-195,209-212.
  13. O’Toole D, Li H. The pathology of malignant catarrhal fever, with an emphasis on ovine herpesvirus 2.  Vet Pathol. 2014;51(2) 437-452.
  14. 14.  O’Toole D, Taus NS, Montgomery DL, Oaks JL, Crawford TB and Li H.   Intra-nasal inoculation of American bison (Bison bison) with ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) reliably reproduces malignant catarrhal fever. Vet Pathol. 2007;44:655-662.
  15. Pagamjav O, Sakata T, Ibrahim el-SM, et al. Detection of novel gammaherpesviruses in wild animals of South Africa. J Vet Med Sci. 2005;67(11):1185-1188.
  16. Palmer MV, Thacker TC, Madison RJ, et al. Active and latent ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) infection in a herd of captive white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).  J Comp Pathol.  2013 Aug-Oct;149(2-3):162-6.
  17. Simon S, Li H, O"Toole D, Crawford TB, Oaks JL. The vascular lesions of a cow and bison with sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever contain ovine herpesvirus 2-infected CD8 (+) T lymphocytes. J Gen Virol. 2003;84:2009-2013.
  18. 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. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:131-136.
  19. Wessels M, Harwood D, Maley M, Willoughby K, Balfour C. Malignant catarrhal fever in kune kune pigs. Vet Rec. 2011;169(6):156.



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