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Hepatitis E in a pet house rabbit

C. Caruso, P. Modesto, R. Prato, F. E. Scaglione, L. De Marco and others

HEPATITIS E virus (HEV) has previously been identified in farmed and wild rabbits in the USA, Mongolia and France. This is a report of HEV detection in a pet rabbit in Italy.

A seven-year-old female pet house rabbit was referred for postmortem examination at the University of Turin after it died suddenly. The rabbit was up-to-date on vaccinations for rabbit haemmorhagic disease virus and myxomatosis virus. It appeared to be in good body condition, but had spots of blood surrounding the nose and mouth. Macroscopic evaluation showed haemoperitoneum, enlargement of the uterus and haemmorhagic lungs. The liver appeared to enlarged and pale. Histologically, diffuse oedema and focal peribronchial lymphocytic infiltrate were observed in the lungs, the spleen showed a severe lymphocytic depletion, and the liver appeared autolytic. Bacteriological and virological analyses were carried out and infection with HEV was identified. Genetic analysis of the ORF2 region of the identified strain showed that it was 83 to 90 per cent similar to rabbit strains in GenBank; 73 to 81 …

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