Experimental parapoxvirus infection (contagious ecthyma) in semi-domesticated reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus).Vet Microbiol 2013; 162(2-4):499-506VM
Contagious ecthyma (contagious pustular dermatitis, orf) occurs world-wide in sheep and goats and is caused by orf virus (genus Parapoxvirus, family Poxviridae). Contagious ecthyma outbreaks have been described in semi-domesticated reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) in Sweden, Finland and Norway, occasionally with high mortality. Fourteen one-year-old reindeer were corralled in mid-April. One week after arrival, two animals received a commercial live orf virus vaccine for sheep (Scabivax(®)) on scarified skin of the medial thigh. Four weeks later, the two vaccinated and six additional animals were inoculated in scarified oral mucosa with parapoxvirus obtained from reindeer with clinical contagious ecthyma. The remaining six reindeer were kept as sentinels, sharing feed and water with the inoculated animals. A small whitish lesion appeared on the inoculation site and the labial skin-mucosa junction of three animals five days post inoculation (p.i.). Twelve days p.i., typical ecthyma lesions were visible on the inoculation site in six of eight animals, including both vaccinees. Four inoculated animals (including both vaccinees) and one sentinel seroconverted 12 days p.i., and five animals (including one sentinel) seroconverted 20 days p.i. No contagious ecthyma-like lesions were detected in the sentinels. All animals were euthanized at 26-29 days p.i. Histological examination of lesions showed proliferative dermatitis with epidermal hyperplasia, hyperkeratosis, intra-epithelial pustules and ulcers. Orf virus DNA was detected in mandibular lymph nodes, tonsils and mucosal lesions of four animals, including one sentinel, which showed that virus transmission took place. The commercial orf virus vaccine may be difficult to administer due to the need for close-cropping and its zoonotic nature, and did not indicate significant protection, although the latter has to be verified with a larger number of animals.