Polyomavirus infection in hamsters and trichoepitheliomas/cutaneous 
adnexal tumours

Tumours in hamsters linked to polymavirus infection

source: A.P. Foster et al
Veterinary Record vol 151 no 1, July 6 2002
starts p13, 5 pages long

Hamsters sometimes suffer from hair follicle tumours, which are usually seens as non-metastatic and benign, though the hamster may be adversely affected if there are several growths, and/or they are large. A link has been discovered in laboratory hamsters between these lesions and hamster polyomavirus infection.

This study investigates tumours found in 22 pet hamsters living in five colonies. Two of these hamsters were also affected by lymphomas. Electron microscopy failed to reveal virus particles, though immunoblot analysis and ELISA found virus-specific antibodies in all the affected hamsters. The hamsters seemed to be suffering from multiple skin tumours as a result of a polyomavirus , though it is not clear where the infection came from.

The incubation period can vary between four and eighteen months, from when the hamster is infected to when nodules develop. There is no cure for this sort of infection, and hamsters can be infected without actually showing skin lesions. It appears to be spread through urine, and disinfection products can be used to deal with it, for example products used to tackle parvovirus.