Lapine parvovirus is an ssDNA virus which causes a mild, often sub-clinical diarrhoea in rabbits.
Infection has been confirmed in the past by serological studies in commercial rabbitries in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Rabbits become infected by viral transmission through fecal-oral contamination, and is usually associated with dense housing or in farmed rabbits.
Clinical signs are more common in weanling rabbits (4 - 10 weeks of age) and range from anorexia, listlessness to haemorrhagic diarrhoea.
Diagnosis is difficult as other causes of diarrhoea need to be excluded. Histopathological samples usually reveal catarrhal enteritis with hyperemia of the small intestine, hypersecretion of intestinal mucus, and exfoliation of small intestinal epithelial cells. Virus can be detected in most visceral organs.
Commercial ELISA tests are available for other species such as dogs and cats and these tests may help support a diagnosis. PCR assays are definitive if available by reference laboratories.
Treatment is usually supportive in domesticated rabbits, including electrolyte replacement, broad-spectrum antimicrobial therapy, and acidophilus-based preparations to restore normal gut flora.
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