Twenty-four species of South African wild animals were tested for the presence of antibodies against
the viruses of 16 common diseases of domestic animals. Positive results were obtained for African
horsesickness, equine encephalosis, equid herpes virus-1, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis,AIIerton
disease (Herpes mammillitis), lumpy skin disease, parainfluenza, encephalomyocarditis, bluetongue,
Wesselsbron disease, bovine ephemeral fever, and Akabane disease complex. No antibodies could
be demonstrated against the viruses of equine influenza, equine infectious anaemia, equine viral
arteritis and Rift Valley fever. The negative results substantiate observations that the latter diseases,
with the exception of equine viral arteritis, are absent in South Africa. The number of animal species
found positive for a specific virus, ranged from 0-16. No antibodies were found in crocodiles and
warthogs, whereas antibodies against Wesselsbron and bovid herpes virus-1 were present in 16
species. Antibodies against viruses of horses were found almost exclusively in zebras and, although
elephants reacted to African horsesickness, no neutralizing antibodies against it could be demonstrated
in their sera. Zebras were also found to be positive for Wesselsbron and Akabane, which
are usually regarded as viruses of ruminants. Antibodies against most viruses were encountered in
all vegetation zones in South Africa but, as a rule, most viruses were more prevalent in the highrainfall
zone in KwaZulu-Natal.
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