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Rodents and lagomorphs
Diagnosis and treatment of a novel papillomavirus in a North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum)
  1. Stephanne Schwartz1,
  2. Samantha Lynn Lockwood1,
  3. Dodd Sledge2,
  4. Roger K Maes2 and
  5. Annabel G Wise2
  1. 1 Dermatology for Animals, Gilbert, Arizona, USA
  2. 2 Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Lansing, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Stephanne Schwartz; stephannelevin{at}


A nine-year-old sexually entire male North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) was evaluated for multiple cutaneous masses that had progressively worsened over a seven-year period. Clinical examination revealed multiple exophytic pigmented papules, nodules and plaques on the muzzle, pinnae, limbs, palpebrae and periocular regions. Skin biopsies were consistent with papillomavirus-associated proliferative epithelial lesions. Using PCR primers specific for papillomaviruses, a partial fragment of the papillomavirus L1 gene was successfully amplified from the porcupine skin samples. Sequencing of the PCR product yielded a sequence with only 69% homology to the closest previously reported papillomavirus sequence, indicating this was a novel papillomavirus. Treatment was multimodal. A partial eyelid resection was performed, and a carbon dioxide laser and cryosurgery were used to treat focal lesions. Interferon-α 2A was also administered orally. These therapies resulted in a mild decrease in the size of the lesions followed by subsequent stabilisation over a period of 12 months.

  • papillomavirus
  • porcupine
  • wildlife
  • zoo animals
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  • Contributors SS and SLL were responsible for clinical work-up and management of the case. DS evaluated the sample submitted for histopathology. RKM and AGW performed PCR and sequencing of the virus. SS was the primary author of the report. DS, RKM and AGW authored portions of the manuscript describing diagnostics performed at Michigan State University. All of the authors were involved in the review of the manuscript. Additional contributors included Anthea E Schick and Thomas P Lewis. AES and TPL supervised patient management and assisted in the review of the manuscript. No third party funding or support was received in connection with this study or the writing or publication of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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