Pathologic lesions were summarized in 18 free-ranging cervids (15 moose [Alces alces], two roe deer [Capreolus capreolus], and one red deer [Cervus elaphus[) diagnosed with malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) after examination at the National Veterinary Institute, Oslo 1982–2005. Eye lesions (conjunctivitis, corneal opacity, fibrin clots in the anterior eye chamber) were the most frequent gross finding. Erosive-ulcerative mucosal lesions in the nose and mouth were also commonly found. Histopathology revealed a nonpurulent vasculitis and perivasculitis in the central nervous system (CNS) typical of MCF in 16 of the cases. The diagnosis in the remaining two animals was based upon histologic eye lesions consistent with MCF (CNS not available for examination). Polymerase chain reaction was run on samples from 15 individuals for evidence of MCF-virus DNA, and ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) DNA was detected in five moose, one roe deer, and one red deer, and caprine herpesvirus-2 (CpHV-2) DNA was detected in two moose and one roe deer. Sera from 1,000 free-ranging cervids were tested for specific antibodies to MCF-associated viruses (MCFV) by competitive inhibition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The seroprevalences were: red deer 5%, reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) 4%, roe deer 2%, and moose 0.4% (n = 250 for all four species). The results indicate that sheep and goat MCFV may cause serious disease in wild moose, roe deer, and red deer. The seropositive cervids most likely represent individuals infected with either OvHV-2 or CpHV-2, but may also reflect infections with other related MCFV.

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