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  • Author or Editor: Steven V. Kubiski x
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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



To describe an outbreak of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) in southern white rhinoceros (SWR; Ceratotherium simum simum) and greater one-horned rhinoceros (GOHR; Rhinoceros unicornis) at a safari park in San Diego, CA, from May to September 2023.


21 SWR and 5 GOHR in professionally managed care.


Rhinoceros of both species presented with a range of clinical signs and severities. Lesion locations were categorized as cutaneous (coronary bands, heels and soles, limbs, ventrum, neck folds, and ears) and mucocutaneous (lips, nostrils, mucous membranes of the oral cavity, and vulva). Clinical signs included lethargy, lameness, difficulty with prehension, hyporexia to anorexia, and hypersalivation. Severely affected rhinoceros had clinical pathology findings consistent with systemic inflammation.


Vesicular stomatitis New Jersey virus was confirmed via PCR from swabs of lesions in 10/26 (38%) rhinoceros. Of these 10 confirmed cases, 9 (90%) were SWR and 1 (10%) was a GOHR. A further 6/26 (24%) were considered probable cases, and 10/26 (38%) were considered suspect cases based on clinical signs, but the inability to appropriately sample due to the housing environment precluded confirmation. Histopathology samples from 3 rhinoceros were consistent with VSV, and viral RNA was localized in histologic lesions via RNA in situ hybridization for 1 case. All rhinoceros survived infection despite severe systemic illness in 2 animals.


This case series describes the clinical appearance and progression of VSV in 2 rhinoceros species. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of VSV in a rhinoceros.

Open access