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Res Vet Sci. 2016 Dec;109:129-134. doi: 10.1016/j.rvsc.2016.09.019. Epub 2016 Oct 1.

Effects of myxoma virus and rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus on the physiological condition of wild European rabbits: Is blood biochemistry a useful monitoring tool?

Author information

1
Ethology and Biodiversity Conservation Department, Doñana Biological Station-CSIC, AméricoVespucio s/n, 41092 Seville, Spain. Electronic address: isa_pacios@ebd.csic.es.
2
Ethology and Biodiversity Conservation Department, Doñana Biological Station-CSIC, AméricoVespucio s/n, 41092 Seville, Spain. Electronic address: santoro@ebd.csic.es.
3
Ethology and Biodiversity Conservation Department, Doñana Biological Station-CSIC, AméricoVespucio s/n, 41092 Seville, Spain. Electronic address: alexberto@ebd.csic.es.
4
Ethology and Biodiversity Conservation Department, Doñana Biological Station-CSIC, AméricoVespucio s/n, 41092 Seville, Spain. Electronic address: smoreno@ebd.csic.es.
5
Ethology and Biodiversity Conservation Department, Doñana Biological Station-CSIC, AméricoVespucio s/n, 41092 Seville, Spain; Wildlife Ecology and Management Team, Landcare Research, PO Box 1930, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand; Department of Zoology, Campus de Rabanales, University of Córdoba, 14071 Córdoba, Spain. Electronic address: roucoc@landcareresearch.co.nz.

Abstract

Myxomatosis and rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) are the major viral diseases that affect the wild European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). These diseases arrived in Europe within the last decades and have caused wild rabbit populations to decline dramatically. Both viruses are currently considered to be endemic in the Iberian Peninsula; periodic outbreaks that strongly impact wild populations regularly occur. Myxoma virus (MV) and rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) alter the physiology of infected rabbits, resulting in physical deterioration. Consequently, the persistence and viability of natural populations are affected. The main goal of our study was to determine if blood biochemistry is correlated with serostatus in wild European rabbits. We carried out seven live-trapping sessions in three wild rabbit populations over a two-year period. Blood samples were collected to measure anti-MV and anti-RHDV antibody concentrations and to measure biochemical parameters related to organ function, protein metabolism, and nutritional status. Overall, we found no significant relationships between rabbit serostatus and biochemistry. Our main result was that rabbits that were seropositive for both MV and RHDV had low gamma glutamyltransferase concentrations. Given the robustness of our analyses, the lack of significant relationships may indicate that the biochemical parameters measured are poor proxies for serostatus. Another explanation is that wild rabbits might be producing attenuated physiological responses to these viruses because the latter are now enzootic in the study area.

KEYWORDS:

Biochemical parameters; Myxomatosis; Oryctolagus cuniculus; Physiological condition; Rabbit hemorrhagic disease; Serostatus

PMID:
27892861
DOI:
10.1016/j.rvsc.2016.09.019
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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