Impact of poxvirus lesions on saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) skins

Rhiannon L. Moore, Sally R. Isberg, Cathy M. Shilton, Natalie L. Milic

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Cutaneous poxvirus infections are common in several crocodilian species and are of importance in crocodile farming due to their potential impact on the tanned hide. To confirm poxvirus infection and understand the impact on saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) skin, fourteen animals from different age groups (five hatchlings, five yearlings and four grow-outs) were selected based on a criterion of ten poxvirus-like lesions per animal. One lesion on each animal was extruded for genetic analysis and transmission electron microscopy. Both methods confirmed poxvirus so the remainder of lesions were re-examined every six weeks over a 24 week study period. Each lesion went through four distinct phases: early active, active, expulsion and healing. To understand how these lesions impact on the final skin product, one crocodile from each age group was euthanised and the lesions examined. Using standard skin grading techniques (light-table), the early phase (early active – expulsion) lesions were all translucent and would lead to downgrading of the skin or, at worst, rendering them unsaleable. At the later stages of healing, the translucency reduces. Histological examination of the phases confirm that the basement membrane is not breached by the infection further indicating that poxvirus lesions, given enough time, will eventually have no detrimental effect on skin quality. This is obviously dependent upon no more lesions developing in the interim.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-35
    Number of pages7
    JournalVeterinary Microbiology
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

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