Molecular Detection of an Adenovirus in Two North American Porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) with Respiratory Disease

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Adenoviruses are DNA viruses that are widespread, and depending on the viral species and serotype, can infect a variety of hosts and result in disease involving multiple body systems (Berk 2013). Respiratory disease related to adenoviruses has been reported to affect both humans and a variety of animal species, causing clinical disease ranging from conjunctivitis to pneumonia (Berk 2013). Although necrotizing pneumonia due to an adenovirus has been reported in guinea pigs, which are histricomorph rodents closely related to porcupines, to our knowledge, adenoviruses have not been previously documented in porcupines. This report describes an adenovirus detected by viral isolation and identified via PCR directed sequencing from deep nasal swabs of two North American porcupines exhibiting signs of respiratory disease. The adenovirus identified in these porcupines, skunk adenovirus 1 (SkAdv-1), has only been previously reported in a skunk and African pygmy hedgehogs (Kozak et al. 2015; Needle et al. 2018). Cases 1 and 2 were evaluated at Cornell University’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center (WHC) on separate occasions. Case 1 was a young adult male found weak and lethargic in the wild. He was initially treated by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who removed abundant dried ocular discharge and then transferred the porcupine to the WHC. On physical examination, the porcupine displayed an increased respiratory rate (120 breaths per minute), a markedly increased respiratory effort, bilateral mucopurulent ocular discharge and conjunctivitis, bilateral mucopurulent nasal discharge resulting in occlusion of the nares, and dried mucopurulent discharge on the medial surface of both paws. The remainder of the physical examination was within normal limits. Fluorescein staining of both eyes was negative, and thoracic and abdominal radiographs were normal other than excessive gas accumulation in the stomach and intestines attributed to stasis. A deep nasal swab cultured Staphylococcus aureus. Case 2 was a young adult male porcupine found with signs of an upper respiratory infection and right front limb injury, and was taken to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. The porcupine was transferred to the WHC after 5 days due to failure of response to ceftiofur crystalline free acid (Excede®). Physical examination found crusted mucopurulent discharge occluding both nares, bilateral mucopurulent ocular discharge, bilateral conjunctivitis, and the right eye had a corneal opacity at the medial canthus that was negative on fluorescein stain. The remainder of the physical examination was within normal limits. Radiographs demonstrated severe diffuse pneumonia throughout the right lung lobes and in the left middle lung lobe. Cytology of a nasal crust revealed neutrophilic inflammation with intracellular gram positive cocci, and aerobic bacterial culture was positive for Staphylococcus aureus. This senior seminar will review adenoviruses reported in wildlife species as well as discuss the epidemiology and clinical significance of the specific adenovirus identified in these two porcupines.

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adenovirus, Erethizon dorsatum, porcupine, skunk, respiratory


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Sarah Balik, Elizabeth Bunting, Edward Dubovi, Randall Renshaw, and Sara Childs-Sanford "DETECTION OF SKUNK ADENOVIRUS 1 IN TWO NORTH AMERICAN PORCUPINES (ERETHIZON DORSATUM) WITH RESPIRATORY DISEASE," Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 50(4), 1012-1015, (9 January 2020).

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