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Author(s) : S. Bertagnoli & S. Marchandeau

Summary :

Myxomatosis, a major disease of European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), is enzootic on several continents. The disease is infectious, virulent and contagious. The pathogen is a virus of the family Poxviridae, genus Leporipoxvirus. In its classic form the disease is often fatal, characterised by severe immunosuppression and the appearance of skin pseudotumours (myxomas); it is conducive to effective mechanical transmission by many biting arthropods. Atypical clinical forms, referred to as amyxomatous, of variable severity and with an apparent preference for direct transmission, have recently emerged in Europe. Virus–host interactions have been particularly well studied since the voluntary introduction of the myxoma virus into Australia and Europe, revealing a remarkable process of co-evolution. Molecular analysis has recently demonstrated the extraordinary evolutionary capacity of the myxoma virus.

European rabbit – Host–virus co-evolution – Mechanical vector transmission – Myxoma virus.

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