Excretion of alcelaphine herpesvirus-1 (AHV-1) is for all practical purposes limited to wildebeest calves under the age of 4 months. Sixty-one per cent of calves 1-2 months of age excreted virus with a mean titre of 9,8 x 10⁴ cytopathic-forming foci/ml in their ocular fluid. The incidence declined sharply to less than 2% in wildebeest older than 6 months. No difference in age-related excretion of virus could be detected between free-living and captive wildebeest and no virus could be isolated from free-living pregnant wildebeest cows or from captive cows and their calves during the first 4 weeks after birth. The occurrence of wildebeest-derived malignant catarrhal fever (WD MCF) during spring, when wildebeest do not excrete virus, is a strong indication of the existence of an alternative host or an intermediate host capable of biological transfer of AHV-1.
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