Rabbit (Shope) Papilloma Virus

Etiology:  Shope papilloma virus is a DNA virus and a member of the papovavirus group.

Incidence:  Incidence of disease is rare in laboratory rabbits.  This disease is seen most frequently in cottontail rabbits of the Midwest with outbreaks in domestic rabbits.

Transmission:  Biting arthropod vector transmission of the natural disease has been demonstrated.

Clinical Signs:  Red, raised cutaneous foci develop into verrucous growths of the ears and eyelids.

Pathology:  The tumor has the typical appearance of a papilloma with elongated rete pegs of the epithelium surrounding central cores of connective tissue.  A mild inflammatory cell infiltrate is normally found in the dermal layers underlying the tumor.  Failure of the lesion to resolve may lead to development of squamous cell carcinoma.

Diagnosis:  Clinical signs and histological examination are the basis for diagnosis.