A strain of bovine herpesvirus-4 (BHV-4) isolated from bovine cases of mammary pustular dermatitis was used for experimental infection of rabbits. The strain is serologically indistinguishable from the group prototype Movar 33/63 and from the American isolate DN599. Groups of rabbits were inoculated by various routes. Intravaginal and conjunctival inoculations resulted in vulvovaginitis and conjunctivitis, respectively and in shelding of virus. The rabbits seroconverted for the virus, with high titers of antibodies (indirect fluorescent antibody test) that persisted throughout the experiment. Treatment with dexamethasone, beyond the acute infection, did not produce recrudescence of disease or shedding of the virus. Rabbits were killed at various times, from 3 to 6 months post-infection, and the virus was recovered from explant cultures of spleen and by cocultivation of spleen cells with bovine lung cells. These results demonstrate the usefulness of the rabbit as a model for studying the pathogenesis of BHV-4 infection in cattle.
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