A progressive wart-like syndrome in both captive and wild populations of the Western barred bandicoot (WBB) is hindering conservation efforts to prevent the extinction of this endangered marsupial. In this study, 42 WBBs exhibiting the papillomatosis and carcinomatosis syndrome were examined. The disease was characterized by multicentric proliferative lesions involving cutaneous and mucosal surfaces, which were seen clinically to increase in size with time. Grossly and histologically the smaller skin lesions resembled papillomas, whereas the larger lesions were most commonly observed to be squamous cell carcinomas. Large amphophilic intranuclear inclusion bodies were observed in hyperplastic conjunctival lesions of 8 WBBs under light microscopy. Conjunctival lesions from 2 WBBs examined using transmission electron microscopy contained a crystalline array of spherical electrondense particles of 45-nm diameter, within the nucleus of conjunctival epithelial cells, consistent with a papillomavirus or polyomavirus. Conjunctival samples from 3 bandicoots that contained intranuclear inclusion bodies also demonstrated a positive immunohistochemical reaction after indirect immunohistochemistry for papillomavirus structural antigens. Ultrastructural and/or immunohistochemical evidence of an etiologic agent was not identified in the nonconjunctival lesions examined. Here we describe the gross, histopathologic, ultrastructural, and immunohistochemical findings of a papillomatosis and carcinomatosis syndrome recently identified in the WBB.
- Western barred bandicoot