Malignant catarrhal fever

Also known as Bovine malignant catarrh


Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is an infectious systemic disease that affects mainly cattle and deer. The disease occurs sporadically in cattle and is typically acute and fatal. Occasionally animals may experience mild infections with evidence of recovery. Clinical signs range from mucopurulent discharge from the eyes, nose and mouth, bilateral corneal opacity, mucosal erosions, swollen lymph nodes, lameness, and neurological signs (trembling, stupor, aggressiveness, and convulsions) to sudden death, fever and depression.

MCF is caused by gammaherpesvirus of the Macavirus genus, transmitted from sheep and wIldebeest (ovine herpesvirus-2 and alcelaphine herpesvirus-1). MCF is transmitted only from carriers to clinically susceptible animals; affected animals do not transmit the virus. Recrudescence of latent Infection can occur in previously infected animals which survived.

Diagnosis and tests available


Diagnosis is supported by the history of sporadic infection, clinical signs, supportive histopathology and virus detection.

Tests available


Sample(s) required

Days of the week test is conducted

Turnaround time1

Histopathology examination

Fixed tissue

Monday –Friday

Up to 5 days

Malignant catarrhal fever virus real time PCR

EDTA blood (purple top tube)

According to demand

2-3 working days

1 Turnaround times are provided as a guide only. For specific information about your submission please contact Customer Service.

Specimen requirements

Blood (with anti-coagulant)

  • 10 ml of blood collected into an EDTA tube
    • Submit chilled

Fixed tissue

  • Brain, liver, kidney, adrenal gland, bladder and nasal mucosa.
    • Submit fixed in neutral buffered formalin at a 10:1 ratio of formalin: tissue


Appropriate samples should also be submitted to exclude Pestivirus or Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis.