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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
Print version ISSN 1019-9128


WILLIAMS, J H et al. Pathology and immunohistochemistry of papillomavirus-associated cutaneous lesions in Cape mountain zebra, giraffe, sable antelope and African buffalo in South Africa. J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2011, vol.82, n.3, pp.97-106. ISSN 2224-9435.

Skin lesions associated with papillomaviruses have been reported in many animal species and man. Bovine papillomavirus (BVP) affects mainly the epidermis, but also the dermis in several species including bovine, the best-known example being equine sarcoid, which is associated with BVP types 1 and 2. This publication describes and illustrates the macroscopic and histological appearance of BPV-associated papillomatous, fibropapillomatous or sarcoid-like lesions in Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra) from the Gariep Dam Nature Reserve, 2 giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) from the Kruger National Park, and a sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) from the Kimberley area of South Africa. An African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) cow from Kruger National Park also had papillomatous lesions but molecular characterisation of lesional virus was not done. Immunohistochemical staining using polyclonal rabbit antiserum to chemically disrupted BPV-1, which cross-reacts with the L1 capsid of most known papillomaviruses, was positive in cells of the stratum granulosum of lesions in Giraffe 1, the sable and the buffalo and negative in those of the zebra and Giraffe 2. Fibropapillomatous and sarcoid-like lesions from an adult bovine were used as positive control for the immunohistochemistry and are described and the immunohistochemistry illustrated for comparison. Macroscopically, both adult female giraffe had severely thickened multifocal to coalescing nodular and occasionally ulcerated lesions of the head, neck and trunk with local poorly-circumscribed invasion into the subcutis. Necropsy performed on the 2nd giraffe revealed neither internal metastases nor serious underlying disease. Giraffe 1 had scattered, and Giraffe 2 numerous, large, anaplastic, at times indistinctly multinucleated dermal fibroblasts with bizarre nuclei within the sarcoid-like lesions, which were BPV-1 positive in Giraffe 1 and BPV-1 and -2 positive in Giraffe 2 by RT-PCR. The sable antelope presented with a solitary large lesion just proximal to the right hind hoof, which recurred after excision, and was BPV-1 positive by RT-PCR. Other wart-like growths were present elsewhere on the body. The Cape mountain zebra either succumbed from their massive lesions or were euthanased or removed from the herd because of them. The lesions were BPV-1 and/or -2 positive by RT-PCR. The buffalo lesions were wart-like papillomatous projections in the inguinal and udder region. Stratum granulosum cells that stained immunohistochemically positive in the various species appeared koilocyte-like, as described in human papillomaviral lesions.

Keywords : African buffalo; bovine; Cape mountain zebra; fibropapilloma; giraffe; immunohistochemistry; koilocyte; papillomavirus; pathology; sable antelope; sarcoid-like.

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