College of Veterinary Medicine

Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF)



To test for antibodies to MCF virus,
technicians Jan Keller (back) and
Lori Fuller conduct a CI-ELISA

Photo by Peggy Greb, from the
article in Agriculture Research,
"Battling Bison's Mysterious
MCF Disease

Diagnostic tests available for malignant catarrhal fever through the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

Competitive inhibition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA)

cELISA is a specific, rapid assay for detection of the antibody against the MCF group of viruses. It employs a monoclonal antibody (15-A) to an epitope conserved among all known MCF-group viruses. These include alcelaphine herpesvirus 1, alcelaphine herpesvirus 2, ovine herpesvirus 2, caprine herpesvirus 2, the virus of unknown origin causing classic MCF in white-tailed deer, and the MCF-group viruses carried by the muskox, ibex and oryx. The cELISA is most useful for screening for infection, not for diagnosing disease.

PCR specific for OvHV-2

(sheep-associated MCF virus) This test detects only OvHV-2 DNA. PCR is the method of choice for confirming clinical sheep-associated MCF in a clinically-susceptible host.

PCR for other MCF-group viruses

(only upon special request): Detection of AlHV-1, CpHV-2 or the ‘white-tailed deer MCF virus’ can be done on special request. Contact the lab for more information.

Consensus PCR for herpesviruses

(upon request). This consensus PCR is based on a set of degenerate primers targeting a region of the herpesviral DNA polymerase gene (VanDevanter et al.,1996). Given sufficient target DNA, this assay will detect all members of the Herpesviridae family of viruses. Sequencing of the amplicon thus obtained can help identify an unknown herpesvirus.

More information about MCF testing, sample submission instructions, fees and contact information is available at the website of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at: They can be contacted by phone at 509-335-9696.

Last Edited: Oct 21, 2009 8:20 AM   

Animal Disease Research Unit, USDA-ARS  PO Box 646630, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6630, 509-335-6029, Contact Us  Safety Links