Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Serological survey for antibodies to Encephalitozoon cuniculi in pet rabbits in Italy.

Abstract

Pet rabbits (n=125) from Southern Italy were submitted to a serological screening for Encephalitozoon cuniculi, using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and a carbon immunoassay (CIA). Seventy-eight examined rabbits showed clinical signs suggestive of encephalitozoonosis (head tilt, ataxia, paralysis, cataracts, uveitis, polyuria and polydipsia), whereas 47 were healthy rabbits. Antibodies anti-E. cuniculi were found in 84/125 (67.2%) sera analysed. The results of the chi-squared test showed that sex and health status had no significant effect (P>0.05) on E. cuniculi seropositivity; however, rabbits older than 4 months had a seropositivity for E. cuniculi significantly (P<0.05) higher than that of rabbits aged up to 4 months. The results of the present survey reinforce the assumption that rabbit may be indicated as the main reservoir of E. cuniculi; therefore, routine screening examinations in pet rabbits are strongly advised considering the zoonotic potential of this parasite.