Infectious keratoconjunctivitis in reindeer

A normal reindeer eye (left). An eye with corneal oedema, an early sign of IKC (middle). A later stage of IKC with pus and blood from the eye, and keratitis and conjuncivitis (right). Photo: Morten Tryland.

 

The disease infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) in semi-domesticated reindeer has been described for more than a century. The disease is contagious and can appear as outbreaks in the reindeer herds, affecting calves and young animals in particular. During severe outbreaks, tens of animals can be involved and the most severe symptoms of the disease can appear, leading to permanent blindness. This disease thus represents an animal welfare issue, as well as economic loss for the reindeer herders.

 

In spite of being a rather common disease and its some times aggressive appearance and severity, the knowledge on the causative agent and other risk factors is scarce. We have previously concluded that alphaherpesvirus of reindeer, cervid herpesvirus 2 (CvHV2) can initiate such outbreaks and represents the transmissible component of the disease, whereas secondary bacterial infections may contribute to the pathology and destruction of the eyes.

 

Through this project, we want to address the infection biology and pathogenicity of IKC in reindeer, with a particular focus on the role of CvHV2 as the causative agent. We will be analyzing data and samples obtained from animals experimentally inoculated with CvHV2 and the bacterium Moraxella bovoculi, another pathogen candidate for IKC. Further, we want to address possible anti-viral treatment, to see if it is possible to abort CvHV2-infection and the associated pathogenicity, both in cell culture and experimental animals.

 

The project (2015 - 2018) is funded by the Reindeer Development Fund (Reindriftens utviklingsfond). PhD student Javier Sánchez Romano (UiT) is associated to the project, with co-supervisors Karen K. Sørensen, Anett K. Larsen and Ingebjørg H. Nymo.


Ansvarlig for prosjektet: Morten Tryland

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