The Department of Agriculture recently diagnosed a case of wildebeest-associated malignant catarrhal fever in a cow from a Texas operation that kept cattle and captive wildebeests on the same premises.
The wildebeests were apparently part of a game preserve for hunting native and exotic animals.
While MCF is not contagious among cattle and poses no threat to human health, the USDA and state officials investigated the April incident and traced the movement of cattle from the premises. The operation had shipped 134 breeding heifers to locations in Illinois, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The USDA noted that it would work with states to depopulate the heifers and indemnify the owners.
Cattle can contract sheep- and wildebeest-associated MCF, but they do not spread either strain. The wildebeest-associated strain is foreign to the United States. Both strains induce high fatality rates in cattle.