Evidence for persistent Bovine viral diarrhea virus infection in a captive mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus)

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Correspondence: 1Corresponding Author: Danielle D. Nelson, WADDL, PO Box 2037, College Station, Pullman, WA 99165-2037.

Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) viruses are pestiviruses that have been isolated from domestic and wild ruminants. There is serologic evidence of pestiviral infection in more than 40 species of free-range and captive mammals. Vertical transmission can produce persistently infected animals that are immunotolerant to the infecting strain of Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) and shed virus throughout their lives. Seven species (white-tailed deer, mouse deer, eland, domestic cattle, alpaca, sheep, and pigs) have been definitively identified as persistently infected with BVDV. This study provides serological, molecular, immunohistochemical, and histological evidence for BVDV infection in 2 captive mountain goats from a zoological park in Idaho. The study was triggered by isolation of BVDV from tissues and immunohistochemical identification of viral antigen within lesions of a 7-month-old male mountain goat (goat 1). Blood was collected from other mountain goats and white-tailed and mule deer on the premises for BVDV serum neutralization, viral isolation, and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. One 3-month-old mountain goat (goat 2) was antibody negative and BVDV positive in serum samples collected 3 months apart. This goat subsequently died, and though still antibody negative, BVDV was isolated from tissues and identified by immunohistochemistry within lesions. Sequencing and phylogenetic analysis identified the isolates as BVDV-2. These findings provide evidence of persistent infection in a mountain goat, underscoring the need for pestivirus control strategies for wild ruminants in zoological collections.

Key Words: Bovine viral diarrhea virus • mountain goats • persistent infection • pestivirus

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Nelson DD1, Dark MJ, Bradway DS, Ridpath JF, et al.: J Vet Diagn Invest 20: 752-759, 2008.