Nine isolates of pleural effusion disease agent or virus (PEDV) from treponema-infected rabbits in various countries were examined for pathogenicity and persistence in rabbits. The isolates showed a wide range of pathogenicity and were categorized into three groups according to the severity of the acute infection. Group 1 comprised isolates causing more than 50% mortality, group 2 isolates causing mortality below 50%, while group 3 comprised isolates causing almost subclinical infections. The range between group 1 and group 3 was similar to that observed with virulent and avirulent progeny of the original PEDV isolate. Infection by each of the nine isolates resulted in a chronic low level viraemia which persisted for up to 2 years or more. Viral progeny of pathogenic isolates obtained in serum after the 2nd month of infection failed to induce clinical disease on rabbit inoculation. The chronic, subclinical infection was associated with a moderate, continued increase in serum IgG, but circulating immune complexes could not be demonstrated. Two years after infection slight histopathological changes were present in lymph nodes, spleen, liver, heart and lung. Evidence of immune complex disease could not be demonstrated.

Keyword(s): PEDV , rabbit and virulence

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