Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Pseudorabies virus

Synonym(s): Aujeszky's disease virus, porcine herpesvirus 1

Contributor(s): Vetstream Ltd




  • Family: Herpesviridae.
  • Subfamily: Alphavirinae.
  • Genus: Varicellovirus.


Active Forms

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Clinical Effects



  • The principal reservoir is the pig.


  • Replicates primarily in the upper respiratory epithelium including the tonsils.
  • Replication occurs in the cell nucleus - viral capsids (intranuclear inclusion bodies) are formed.


  • Ingestion, inhalation or via pig bites. Rats may take virus from farm to farm.
  • Venereal transmission can occur in pigs.
  • No evidence of dog to dog spread.

Pathological effects

  • IgM antibodies first detectable about the 5th day.
  • IgG measurable by the 7th day and at maximum levels by 12th-14th day.
  • Virus replicates in the upper respiratory epithelium including the tonsils.
  • Infection may occur in the lower airway; may cause necrotizing tracheitis and pneumonia.
  • Can be found in the brain 24 hours after infection, therefore probably spreads via axoplasm.
  • Virus produces a non-suppurative meningoencephalomyelitis Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis with widespread damage to neurons.

In pigs

  • Produces a variable clinical picture.
  • Predominantly a nervous disease in young pigs; mortality 5-100%.
  • Severe nervous disease in adult pigs is rare. Presents vaguely with pyrexia, dullness and inco-ordination.
  • Respiratory disease may occur in pigs of all ages.
  • Infection in late pregnancy may cause abortion or stillbirth.

In cattle

  • Dominant sign is intense pruritus, resulting in licking, biting and abrasions.
  • Central nervous system (CNS) involvement causes bellowing and frenzy but not aggression.
  • Death occurs from respiratory or cardiac failure.

In dogs

  • See also pseudorabies Pseudo-rabies.
  • Fatal within 48 hours.
  • Intense pruritus.
  • Convulsions and cranial nerve palsies may occur.
  • Aggressive behavior occurs rarely.

In cats

  • Sluggishness is followed by excitement; mewing and paralysis of the limbs may occur.
  • Recovery rarely occurs.


Control via animal

  • Avoid feeding pork to dogs in areas where enzootic in pigs.


  • Modified live vaccines available for pigs.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from VetMedResource and PubMed.
  • Smith K C (1997) Herpesviral abortion in domestic animals. Vet J 153(3,) 253-68.
  • Murdoch R S (1990) Aujesky's disease in foxhounds. VetRec 126(9), 226.
  • Kelley D F, and Ratcliffe J (1983) Canine Aujesky's disease. Vet Rec 113(18), 430.
  • Shell L G, Ely R W and Crandell R A (1981) Pseudorabies in a dog. JAVMA 178(11), 1159-61.