Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Herpes virus infection

Contributor(s): Molly Varga, Lesa Longley, Lesa Thompson

Introduction

  • CauseHerpes cuniculi(Leporid herpes virus 2) - first recognized in 1924.
  • It is largely apathogenic however a highly virulent strain has been recognized; this virulent strain is termed Leporid herpes virus 4.
  •  Herpes sylvilagus(Leproid herpes virus 1) is a herpes virus which causes lymphoproliferative disease in Cotton tail rabbits ( Sylvilagus floridanus). It does not cause disease in domestic rabbits ( Oryctolagus cuniculus).
  • On occasion Herpes simplex virus from an infected human can infect domestic rabbits, leading to severe encephalitis; this is an unusual cause of herpes virus infection in pet rabbits.
  • Signs: hemorrhagic dermatitis, pneumonia, ocular discharge/lesions.
  • Diagnosis: blood sampling, tracheal wash.
  • Treatment: antibiosis, NSAIDs, assisted feeding, fluid therapy, isolation.
  • Prognosis: moderate 50% mortality reported.

Presenting signs

  • Leporid herpes virus 2 (LHV2) is apathogenic or subclinical.
  • Leporid herpes virus 4 (LHV4) causes hemorrhagic dermatitis of the face and dorsum, focal pneumonia and oculonasal discharge.

Acute presentation

  • LHV2 is apathogenic, and infection has only ever been documented in laboratory colonies.
  • LHV4 infection causes a hemorrhagic dermatitis, with focal pneumonia. 
  • Oculonasal discharge and corneal lesions may also be seen.

Geographic incidence

  • LHV2 has only been reported from laboratory colonies.
  • LHV4 has been reported from laboratory colonies in Alaska USA and Canada.

Age predisposition

  • Young animals are more susceptible; periparturient or transplacental infection may be a feature.

Sex predisposition

  • Females may be more susceptible to LHV4, as periparturient does have featured heavily in the reported outbreaks.

Breed predisposition

  • Rex   Rex  and mini Rex breeds were prominent in reported outbreaks, however true susceptibility is not yet known.

Public health considerations

  • None.

Cost considerations

  • High rates of mortality within laboratory colonies have significant cost impact for LHV4.
  • LHV2 is subclinical, however concurrent infection with Pasturella multocida   Pasteurella multocida  may cause increased financial losses.

Special risks, eg anesthetic

  • Pneumonia   Pneumonia   and splenic necrosis is associated with LHV4, with increased handling and anesthesia risks.

Pathogenesis

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Sequelae

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Weissenb√∂ck H, Hainfellner J A, Berger J et al (1997) Naturally occurring Herpes simplex encephalitis in a domestic rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Vet Pathol 34 (1), 44-47 PubMed.
  • Onderka D K, Papp-Vid G & Perry A W (1992) Fatal herpesvirus infection in commercial rabbits. Can Vet J 33 (8), 539-543 PubMed.
  • Lewis H S & Hinze H C (1976) Epidemiology of Herpesvirus sylvilagus infection in Cotton Tail rabbits. J Wildlife Dis 12 (4), 482-485 PubMed.


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