Objective - To inoculate white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) during the sixth or seventh week of gestation with bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) and observe for signs of reproductive tract disease during a 182-day period. Animals - 10 pregnant white-tailed deer (8 seronegative and 2 seropositive [control deer] for BVDV). Procedures - Deer were inoculated with 1 of 2 deer-derived BVDV strains (RO3-20663 or RO3-24272). Serum anti-BVDV antibody titers were determined prior to and 21 or 35 days after inoculation. Virus isolation (VI) procedures were performed on tissues from fetuses and does that died and on blood samples collected from live fawns. Ear notch specimens obtained from live fawns were assessed by use of BVDV antigen-capture ELISA (ACE). Results - Both RO3-20663-inoculated seropositive deer gave birth to apparently normal fawns. Among the RO3-24272-inoculated seronegative deer, 1 died, and 1 aborted and 1 resorbed their fetuses; among the RO3-20663-inoculated seronegative deer, 3 died, 1 aborted its fetus, and 1 gave birth to 2 fawns that were likely persistently infected. On the basis of VI and ACE results, those 2 fawns were positive for BVDV; both had no detectable neutralizing anti-BVDV antibodies in serum. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Reproductive tract disease that developed in pregnant white-tailed deer following BVDV inoculation was similar to that which develops in BVDV-exposed cattle. Methods developed for BVDV detection in cattle (VI, immunohistochemical evaluations, and ACE) can be applied in assessments of white-tailed deer. Fawns from does that had serum anti-BVDV antibodies prior to inoculation were protected against BVDV infection in utero.
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