Lymphoma is the most common haematopoietic malignancy in dogs, but little is known about the aetiology of this heterogeneous group of cancers. In humans, the Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is associated with several lymphoma subtypes. Recently, it was suggested that EBV or an EBV-like virus is circulating in dogs. We therefore investigated whether EBV, or a novel herpesvirus, is associated with canine lymphoma using both serological and molecular techniques. In an assay designed to detect antibodies to EBV viral capsid antigens, 41 % of dogs were positive. Dogs with cancers, including lymphoma, were more frequently positive than controls, but no particular association with B-cell lymphoma was noted. EBV-specific RNA and DNA sequences were not detected in lymphoma tissue by hybridization or PCR, and herpesvirus genomes were not detected using multiple degenerate PCR assays with the ability to detect novel herpesviruses. We therefore found no evidence that herpesviruses are directly involved in common types of canine lymphoma although cannot exclude the presence of an EBV-like virus in the canine population.


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