Emergence of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in red deer (Cervus elaphus), Spain, 2022

Veterinary Microbiology


Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) virus serotype 8 (EHDV-8) emerged in Spain in autumn 2022. In this study, we aimed to (1) characterize the clinical and lesional presentation of EHDV infection in European red deer (Cervus elaphus), and (2) study the spatial spread of the virus in wild ruminants in Spain after its introduction, in 2022/2023. We confirmed EHDV infection in two clinically compatible sick red deer by PCR and detection of anti-EHDV specific antibodies. EHDV infection occurred in red deer with hyperacute to acute clinical signs and lesions associated to vascular changes leading to death of the animals. Partial sequences of variable segment 2 (VP2) and segment 5 (NS1) genes of the detected viruses had >99% nucleotide identity with EHDV-8 sequences from Tunisia and Italy. In a cross-sectional serological study of EHDV in 592 wild ruminants, mainly red deer (n=578), in southwestern Spain, we detected anti-EHDV antibodies in 37 of 592 samples (6.3%; 95% confidence interval: 4.3-8.2), all from red deer and from the localities where clinical cases of EHD were confirmed in red deer. We conclude that EHDV-8 infection causes severe EHD in European red deer. The serosurvey revealed a limited spread of EHDV-8 in Spanish wild ruminant populations in the first year of virus detection in Spain.

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