A disease affecting guinea pigs called 'guinea pig lameness' characterized by clinical signs of depression, lameness of limbs, flaccid paralysis, weight loss and death within a few weeks was first described by Römer in 1911. After a research group in our facility kept laboratory guinea pigs from two different origins together in one room, lameness was observed in two animals. Further investigations revealed a serological immune response against Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV; GDVII strain) in these animals. Histopathology of the lumbar spinal cord of these animals showed mononuclear cell infiltration and necrotic neurons in the anterior horn. Therefore, all guinea pigs from this contaminated animal unit, from other units in our facility, as well as from different European institutions and breeding centres were screened for antibodies directed against GDVII. Our investigations showed that approximately 80% of all guinea pigs from the contaminated animal unit were seropositive for GDVII, whereas animals from other separate units were completely negative. In addition, 43% of tested sera from the different European institutions and breeding centres contained antibodies against GDVII. The present data confirm that an unknown viral infection causes an immune response in experimental guinea pigs leading to seroconversion against GDVII and that guinea pigs from a commercial breeder are the source of the infection.
Keywords: TMEV; guinea pig; health monitoring; lameness; poliovirus.
© The Author(s) 2015.