Herpesvirus infections in rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis)

Judith A. Galeota, Julia E. Napier, Douglas L. Armstrong, Jean Jack Riethoven, Douglas G. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Seven juveniles and 3 adults from a closed group of 19 rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) housed in a zoo's indoor rock exhibit died or were euthanized after developing blepharoconjunctivitis and orofacial ulcers over a 2-week period. Histopathologic examination of dermal ulcers and ulcerated tongues revealed amphophilic to basophilic intranuclear inclusion bodies in epithelial cells bordering ulcers. Epithelial cells with inclusion bodies were often characterized by cytomegaly and karyomegaly, and many cells had formed syncytia. Examination of inclusion bodies in tongue epithelium by transmission electron microscopy revealed icosahedral nucleocapsids, approximately 80-95 nm in diameter, with morphologic features consistent with herpesvirus. Cytopathic effect (CPE) typical of alphaherpesvirus infection was seen in bovine turbinate, equine dermal, and Vero cell monolayers after inoculation with homogenates of the skin lesions, but CPE was not seen after inoculation onto Madin-Darby canine kidney or swine testicle cell monolayers. Polymerase chain reaction analysis using degenerate primers that targeted a portion of the herpesvirus polymerase gene generated a product of approximately 227 base pairs. The product was cloned, sequenced, and then analyzed using BLAST. At the nucleotide level, there was 86%, 77%, and 76% shared identity with Eidolon herpesvirus 1, Human herpesviruses 1 and 2, and Cercopithecine herpesvirus 2, respectively. Herpesvirus infections in rock hyraxes have not been characterized. The data presented in the current study suggest that a novel alphaherpesvirus caused the lesions seen in these rock hyraxes. The molecular characteristics of this virus would tentatively support its inclusion in the genus Simplexvirus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-535
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


  • Herpesvirus
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Procavia capensis
  • Rock hyraxes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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