ISSN 2398-2993      

Papilloma virus


Veronica Fowler

Anna Hollis

Synonym(s): Papillomatosis, warts, fibropapillomas, cutaneous papillomatosis




  • Group: group 1, dsDNA virus.
  • Family: papillomaviridae.
  • Genus: deltapapillomavirus, epsilonpapillomavirus, xipapollomavirus.
  • Species/genotype: bovine papillomavirus (BPV).


  • (L): papilla- nipple.
  • (Gk): oma- tumor, abnormal growth.

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Clinical Effects



  • Disease manifests following infection of the basal cells of the epithelium.
  • Virus entry can result in asymptomatic latent infection.


  • Via abrasions, direct contact with infected tissue, contaminated surfaces or objects.
  • It has also been suggested that flies may play a role.
  • Vertical transmission has also been reported (BPV have been found in uterus, amniotic fluid, placenta and blood).

Pathological effects

  • BPV infected both keratinocytes and fibroblasts within the basal membrane.
  • Deltapapillomaviruses infect only keratinocytes but cause proliferation of both keratinocytes and fibroblasts, whereas xipapillomaviruses involve only the epithelium.
  • The anatomical location specificity of where the warts appear differs between type:
    • BPV-1: penis, teats/udders and cutaneous fibropapillomas .
    • BPV-2: skin warts, alimentary tract fibropapillomas.
    • BPV-3: skin papillomas.
    • BPV-4: skin and upper alimentary tract papillomas and alimentary tract.
    • BPV-5: teats and udder fibropapillomas.
    • BPV-6: teats and udder papillomas.
    • BPV-7/8: cutaneous warts.
    • BPV-9/10: epithelial squamous papilloma lesions.
    • BPV-11: teat fibropapillomas.
    • BPV-13: ear cutaneous papillomas. 
  • BPV1 and 2 cause carcinomas and hemangioendotheliomas of the bladder in association with bracken fern Bracken fern poisoning.

Bovine cutaneous papillomatosis and fibropapillomas

  • Currently there are approximately 12 BPV types associated with cutaneous papillomas and fibropapillomas.
  • In cattle the lesions can be widespread.

Mucosal papillomas and cancer

  • The interplay betweeen ingestion of bracken fern, immunosuppression and BPV infection can results in chronic enzootic hematuria/bladder tumors believed to be caused by E5 oncoprotein.


Control via animal

  • The disease is usually self-limiting and therefore intervention is rarely justified.
  • Fibropapillomas on the teats can be removed surgically.

Control via environment

  • Control of insects may be beneficial.
  • Appropriate disinfection of equipment which has been in contact with diseased cattle.
  • Avoid exposure of cattle to bracken fern.


  • Immune response to BPV is poor in cattle and there is little evidence that vaccination is cost effective.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • da Silva F R, Daudt C, Cibulski S P, Weber M N, Varela A P, Mayer F Q, Roehe P M & Canal C W (2017) Genome characterization of a bovine papillomavirus type 5 from cattle in the Amazon region, Brazil. Virus Genes 53 (1), 130-133 PubMed.
  • Bocaneti F, Altamura G, Corteggio A, Velescu E, Roperto F & Borzacchiello G (2016) Bovine Papillomavirus: New Insights into an Old Disease. Transbound Emerg Dis 63 (1), 14-23 PubMed.
  • Santos E U, Silva M A, Pontes N E, Coutinho L C, Paiva S S, Castro R S & Freitas A C (2016) Detection of Different Bovine Papillomavirus Types and Co-infection in Bloodstream of Cattle. Transbound Emerg Dis 63 (1) PubMed.
  • Nasir L & Campo M S (2008) Bovine papillomaviruses: their role in the aetiology of cutaneous tumours of bovids and equids. Vet Dermatol 19 (5), 243-54 PubMed.
  • Borzacchiello G & Roperto F (2008) Bovine papillomaviruses, papillomas and cancer in cattle. Vet Res 39 (5), 45 PubMed.

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