Malignant Catarrhal Fever Cycle Identified

PULLMAN, Wash., April 7 (UPI) — U.S. scientists have detailed the life cycle of a virus that causes malignant catarrhal fever — a discovery they say might lead to a vaccine for the disease.

U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist Hong Li and veterinary medical officer Naomi Taus collaborated with Washington State University Associate Professor Lindsay Oaks and University of Wyoming Professor Donal O’Toole in the study.

The researchers said malignant catarrhal fever — a viral infection that’s a leading cause of disease in American bison — is usually transmitted from sheep to bison and cattle. But vaccine development has been stymied because the virus won’t grow in cell culture.

The scientists said their new findings show the virus undergoes several changes inside the animal’s body, targeting specific cell types at different stages of its own life cycle. The process is called “cell tropism switching.”

Now that they understand the viral changes, the researchers said scientists can begin to find the right cell types to grow the virus in cell culture.

The study is highlighted in the April issue of the USDA’s Agricultural Research magazine.

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