A serological survey of the prevalence of a new herpesvirus isolated from red deer (Cervus elaphus), tentatively designated herpesvirus of Cervidae type 1 (HVC-1), has shown that the virus is widespread in free-living and farmed red deer. Neutralising antibodies were detected in hill deer culled at three different locations in the north of Scotland, in farmed deer on five of eight Scottish farms and in four of 12 groups of English farmed or park deer. Fifty-eight of 145 (40 per cent) hill deer, 67 of 203 (33 per cent) Scottish farmed deer and 26 of 172 (14 per cent) English deer had antibody, the overall prevalence being 29 per cent. Further outbreaks of ocular disease in farmed red deer calves caused by HVC-1 were investigated. Deer sent to an auction from one farm were found after sale to have been incubating the disease and it was thus spread to seven deer farms. Despite a high incidence of clinical disease in the calves from the original farm, few in-contact deer showed clinical signs.
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