Prevalence of serum antibodies to canine adenovirus and canine herpesvirus in the European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Australia

AJ Robinson, SK Crerar, N Waight, WJ Müller, MP Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To determine the seroprevalence and aspects of the epidemiology of canine adenovirus (CAdV) and canine herpesvirus (CaHV-1) in European red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Australia.

Design: Serum samples were collected opportunistically from foxes in 1991-1994 in Western Australia (WA) and South Australia (SA) and in 1980-1984 and 1990-1994 in New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The sera were examined for antibody to CAdV and CaHV-1 using ELISAs. Seroprevalence in the different regions was determined for both viruses and the CAdV data were analysed for interactions between decade of collection, age, season, region and gender using logistic regression.

Results: The overall prevalence of antibody to CAdV was 23.2% (308/1326) but was significantly higher in sera collected in the eastern states of Australia (47%: 233/498) than in WA (9%: 75/828). Overall, in NSW and the ACT, there was a significantly lower prevalence in juveniles than in adults and the prevalence in juveniles in the 1990s was significantly lower than in the 1980s. The prevalence was also significantly lower in the autumn than in the winter for juveniles but the reverse held for adults. The NSW and ACT data were subdivided into eastern (including the ACT) and western regions. This revealed a significantly higher prevalence in the winter than in the autumn for the west and the reverse in the east. In WA, the northern rangeland regions of WA had lower prevalence (1.9%) than the southern agriculture regions (10.7%). Seasonally, there was a peak prevalence in the spring dropping through the summer and autumn and rising again in the winter. This seasonal pattern was also found in the combined data for all sites in the 1990s. There was no gender difference in prevalence of CAdV either overall or in different regions. The overall prevalence of antibody to CaHV-1 was 2.2% (28/1300). The small number of positives allowed only limited statistical analysis that did not reveal any differences in decade of collection, age, season or region.

Conclusions: CAdV infection is common in the Australian fox population whereas CaHV-1 infection is rare. For CAdV, the age and seasonal patterns of seroprevalence were generally consistent with the recruitment of young susceptible foxes into the population in the spring and the accumulation of infections with age. The differences in regional prevalences correlated with fox density. The low prevalence of antibody to CaHV-1 suggests that CaHV-1 may be a more suitable vector than CAdV for bait delivery of immunocontraceptive antigens to foxes in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-361
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Prevalence of serum antibodies to canine adenovirus and canine herpesvirus in the European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this