Our understanding of molecular biology of the viruses that infect lagomorphs is largely limited to the leporipoxvirus myxoma virus (MYXV) and the lagoviruses rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) and European brown hare syndrome virus (EBHSV) that infect the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) respectively. Thanks to the great effort of historic surveillance studies and careful sample archiving, the molecular evolution of these viruses is being resolved. Although historically considered viruses that cause species specific diseases recent reports show that several lagomorphs may now face the threat of these maladies. The driving factors behind these changes has not been determined and the effect of these species jumps on lagomorph populations has yet to be seen. Lagomorphs are also affected by several other lesser studied viral diseases. In addition, recent metagenomic studies have led to the identification of novel lagomorph viruses the importance of these to lagomorph health remains to be fully determined. In this chapter we summarize molecular aspects of viruses that infect lagomorphs, paying particular attention to recent interspecies infections.
Part of the book: Lagomorpha Characteristics