Lifeform ‘Disasters’ ? – #2.

Posted on QUORA by Trevor Farrell.

What is the strangest biological virus in existence?

My vote goes to the Shope papilloma virus. Just for the way it makes my skin crawl when I behold it.

Thankfully, the virus exclusively affects members of the order Lagomorpha, which is to say namely rabbits and hares. The most notable characteristic of the shope papilloma virus (or SPV for short) is the formation of keratinous growths across the face, head, and neck of the host. These thick, horn-like growths are entirely rigid and stiff, and grow in such a way that they push through the skin of the animal, forcefully parting it away as they continue to develop. To make matters worse, additional symptoms may include an unnatural tilt of the head or staggering gait — namely from the tumors that tend to develop under the skin in the neck, ears, or brain.

Fortunately, the virus isn’t an absolute death sentence. Only 25% of cases turn malignant, and growths may go into remission altogether within six months. Out of all the animals that recover, partial or complete immunity is an expected outcome. Perhaps the most threatening aspect of the condition is the manner in which the ‘horns’ interrupt the rabbit’s ability to eat properly. Many rabbits that succumb to the disease starve to death from growths that appear in, on, or around the mouth.

Morbidly enough, the cancerous “horns” that grow from the animal may very well be the origin of the American Jackalope myth. Now if only the reality wasn’t quite so grim…

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1717 Sunday 10 May 2020

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