Rift Valley Fever Virus-induced Encephalomyelitis and Hepatitis in Calves

M. K. Rippy, M. J. Topper, C. A. Mebus, J. C. Morrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Three calves (Nos. 1, 2 = 7 days old; No. 3 = 21 days old) were inoculated subcutaneously with virulent Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus. All calves became viremic and clinically ill, but the two 7-day-old calves were moribund and were euthanatized subsequently on post-inoculation day (PID) 3. Highest viral titers were measured in the serum, with lesser concentrations in the brain, heart, spleen, and liver of these animals. Viral antigens were detected by immunohistochemical analysis only in the livers, where positive staining was localized in coalescing foci of hepatocellular necrosis. The 21-day-old calf appeared to recover after viremia and pyrexia but became lethargic and ataxic and was euthanatized on PID 9. The calf was no longer viremic, and RVF virus was isolated only from the brain. Microscopic examination of the central nervous system revealed diffuse perivascular infiltrates of lymphocytes and macrophages, multifocal meningitis, and focal areas of neuronal necrosis and aggregates of macrophages, lymphocytes, and neutrophils throughout all regions of the brain and cervical spinal cord. There was positive immunohistochemical staining for viral antigens within the cytoplasm of neurons and glial cells throughout the central nervous system. Thus, RVF virus can cause encephalomyelitis in calves, and the specific virologic diagnosis can be made by immunohistochemical localization of viral antigens in formalin-fixed tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-502
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Calves
  • Rift Valley fever
  • encephalomyelitis
  • hepatitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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