A devastating outbreak of malignant catarrhal fever in a bison feedlot

Hong Li, Naomi S. Taus, Cevin Jones, Brian G Murphy, James F. Evermann, Timothy B. Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


In early 2003, an outbreak of malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) occurred in a bison feedlot in southern Idaho. The outbreak resulted in a 51.2% (n = 825) mortality rate among bison, which had been exposed to sheep for 19 days. Diagnosis was made by detection of ovine herpesvirus 2 (sheep-associated MCF virus) DNA in tissues or peripheral blood by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and by histological examination of tissue lesions. Peak losses occurred between 41 and 55 days postmean exposure time (PME), and reached a maximum of 41 head per day. No known cases of MCF were observed among the 177 head of bison that arrived in the lot 3 1/2 weeks after the departure of the sheep. Of the several thousand head of beef cattle in the lot during the outbreak, only a single case of MCF was identified. This outbreak illustrates the devastating impact the MCF virus can have on bison under certain exposure conditions, the high threat posed by adolescent lambs to susceptible species, the significantly greater susceptibility of bison than beef cattle to MCF, and the lack of horizontal transmission from clinically affected bison to herdmates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-123
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Bison
  • Malignant catarrhal fever
  • Outbreak
  • Ovine herpesvirus-2
  • Sheep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'A devastating outbreak of malignant catarrhal fever in a bison feedlot'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this