Submitted to: Veterinary Record
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/30/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: During the course of experimental development and subsequent field evaluation of an oral vaccinia-rabies glycoprotein recombinant virus vaccine, tissues of 53 free ranging porcupines were examined for presence of lesions. The porcupines (38 females and 15 males) were obtained from State Gamelands No. 13 in northeastern Pennsylvania. Inflammatory lesions affecting the testicles were seen in 2 (16.5% prevalence) males. Special tests revealed presence of fungal organisms within the affected testicles. It is presumed that the infection was most likely acquired at the time of breeding. Male porcupines have been known to be extremely hostile during the breeding season and violent battles have been observed in which males have received vicious bites and hundreds of foreign quills. Also, the fact that both male and female porcupines have quills on their dorsum, would make the process of copulation a risky event (even if the procedure is done every gently) for the male porcupine. Penetration by foreign quills may hav resulted in introduction of the fungal organisms into the testicles. Neither inflammation of the testicles nor infection by fungal organisms has previously been documented in porcupines.
Technical Abstract: Tissues of 53 adult porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) from northeastern United States were obtained for histopathological examinations. Granulomatous orchitis was seen in 2 (16.5% prevalence) males. Microscopic and histochemical tests revealed fungi that were morphologically similar to Histoplasma spp. Since only 1 section of one testicle per animal was examined microscopically, the documented prevalence of fungal orchitis is considered to be conservatively low. Penetration by foreign quills may have resulted in introduction of the fungal organisms into the testicles. Since both gender have quills on their dorsum and not on the ventrum, it would make the process of copulation a risky event (even if the procedure is done very gently) for the male porcupine. Neither orchitis nor infection by Histoplasma-like organisms have previously been documented in porcupines.