Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is an often lethal infection of many species in the order Artiodactyla. It is caused by members of the MCF virus group within Gammaherpesvirinae. MCF is a worldwide problem and has a significant economic impact on highly disease-susceptible hosts, such as cattle, bison, and deer. Several epidemiologic forms of MCF, defined by the reservoir ruminant species from which the causative virus arises, are recognized. Wildebeest-associated MCF (WA-MCF) and sheep-associated MCF (SA-MCF) are the most prevalent and well-studied forms of the disease. Historical understanding of MCF is largely based on WA-MCF, in which the causative virus can be propagated in vitro. Characterization of SA-MCF has been constrained because the causative agent has never been successfully propagated in vitro. Development of molecular tools has enabled more definitive studies on SA-MCF. The current understanding of MCF, including its etiological agents, epidemiology, pathogenesis, and prevention, is the subject of the present review.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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