Poxviruses pp 183-201 | Cite as

Genus Leporipoxvirus

  • John W. Barrett
  • Grant McFadden
Part of the Birkhäuser Advances in Infectious Diseases book series (BAID)


Leporipoxvirus infection is restricted to lagomorphs (rabbits and hares) and gray squirrels. The genus is composed of four recognized members including Myxoma virus (MYXV), the type species, Rabbit fibroma virus (RFV), (also called Shope fibroma virus, SFV), Hare fibroma virus (FIBV) and Squirrel fibroma virus (SQFV). The genus has traditionally been found in the Americas (MYXV, SFV, SQFV) and Europe (FIBV). However, since the early 1900s MYXV has been employed in several countries to control the spread of feral European rabbits and can now be found enzootically in Australia and Europe. Based on sequencing data, the generic leporipoxvirus genome is approximately 160 kb and encodes between 165 genes (RFV/SFV) and 171 genes (MYXV). The best characterized Leporipoxvirus is MYXV. MYXV infection of its evolutionary host, Sylvilagus brasilensis, results in a cutaneous fibroma at the site of infection. This tumor resolves but clearance takes over a month. In contrast, MYXV infection of its pathological host, Oryctolagus cuniculus, results in a lethal disease called myxomatosis. This is a devastating infection that produces numerous tumors on the skin, ears, face and genital regions of the infected animal. Full-blown myxomatosis is most often fatal and is accompanied by the collapse of the host immune system. It is this close interaction between virus and host that has allowed researchers to identify a wide range of immune evasion molecules directed at numerous host immune pathways. To date, MYXV immunomodulators have been identified that target a variety of host cytokines, host cell signaling cascades, apoptosis and numerous sentinel immune molecules.


Immune Evasion Wild Rabbit European Rabbit European Hare Myxoma Virus 
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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel/Switzerland 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • John W. Barrett
    • 1
  • Grant McFadden
    • 1
  1. 1.Robarts Research Institute and Department of Microbiology and ImmunologySchulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, The University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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