Université de Liège,
faculté de médecine vétérinaire B43b,
boulevard de Colonster 20,
4000 Liège 1,
Gammaherpesviruses include viruses able to induce lymphoproliferative diseases and tumors. These viruses can also establish a long and persistent asymptomatic infection in their natural host. Among gammaherpesviruses, AlHV-1 belongs to the
Macavirus genus and infects asymptomatically its natural host, the wildebeest (
Connochaetes spp.). However, this virus induces a lethal lymphoproliferative disease named the African form of malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) when transmitted to a large number of susceptible species belonging to the
Artiodactyla order. Control of MCF in regions where AlHV-1 is endemic is of great importance and directly depends on the understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms responsible for the induction of MCF. The goal of the present review is to summarize current knowledge on AlHV-1 and MCF with a particular interest on the mechanisms used by AlHV-1 to induce the disease. Amongst different models of pathogenesis, the particular role of viral latency will be addressed based on current data. Finally, the evolutionary relationship between the wildebeest, AlHV-1 and the susceptible species to MCF will be discussed.