Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Rabbitpox

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

Introduction

  • Cause: member of the genus Orthopoxvirus, of the family poxviridae.
  • It is regarded as a variant of the vaccinia virus.
  • It is only found in laboratory rabbits ( Oryctolagus cuniculus) and has not been recorded in wild rabbits.
  • Signs: typical pox-like lesions localized or spread all over the body.
  • Diagnosis: clinical signs, PCR, serology.
  • Treatment: NSAIDs, antibiotics, fluid therapy, assisted feeding.
  • Prognosis: poor.
Print off the Owner Factsheet on Rabbitpox to give to your clients.

Presenting signs

  • Typical pox-like lesions which may be prominent or only palpable after careful examination; these may be localized or spread all over the body. Typically papules progresses to vesicles, leaving crusting ulcers when vesicles rupture.
  • Pink or yellow mass-like lesions on the cornea may be seen. 
  • Additional clinical signs related to the gastrointestinal or respiratory tracts may be noted if these systems are affected.

Acute presentation

  • Pox-like lesions in an unwell, possibly febrile rabbit. 
  • Subcutaneous edema, edema of mouth and other body openings, nasal discharge.

Geographic incidence

  • Only recorded in laboratory rabbits, in the USA and the Netherlands.

Age predisposition

  • None recorded.

Sex predisposition

  • None.

Breed predisposition

  • None.

Public health considerations

  • None; rabbit pox virus cannot infect humans.

Cost considerations

  • An outbreak can have huge cost implications within a laboratory setting.
  • Mortality varies but is always high.

Special risks, eg anesthetic

  • Care must be taken when anesthetizing rabbits with the diphtheritic form if the respiratory tract is significantly affected.

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.
  • Greene H S (1934) Rabbit pox I: clinical manifestations and course of disease. J Exp Med 60 (4), 427-440 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Williams E S & Barker I K (2001) Infectious diseases of Wild Mammals. 3rd edn. Manson Publishing, London.


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