High white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population densities and the occurrence of harsh environmental conditions are present on Anticosti Island, located in the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence (Quebec, Canada). This island is the northernmost region of white-tailed deer distribution in northeastern North America. The aim of this work was to determine whether a herpesvirus serologically related to bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV1) may occur in a stressed white-tailed deer population. One hundred one deer sera were collected from apparently healthy animals during the hunting season from September to late November 1985. Fifty-three percent of tested deer were positive to the seroneutralization test using Colorado strain of BHV1 virus. Higher percentages of seropositivity were observed in animals of both sexes >4-yr-old. Analysis of antibody titers in seropositive animals according to age suggests that BHV1 -related viral infection is endemic in the Anticosti Island deer population. It is postulated that environmental stress may induce immunosuppression of certain infected and/or carrier animals in their population that shed virus for long periods of time.
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Vol. 25 • No. 2