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Vet Microbiol. 2003 Jan 2;91(1):57-64.

Rabbit staphylococcosis: difficult solutions for serious problems.

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Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Poultry Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, B-9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.


Staphylococcus aureus infections are a major problem in rabbitries. The main manifestations are subcutaneous abscesses, mastitis, pododermatitis and septicaemia. Two patterns of infection can be distinguished. In the first type, clinical signs remain limited to a small number of rabbits in a flock. This type has little economic importance and is caused by low-virulence S. aureus strains. In the second type, the disease shows an epidemic spread. Consequences are poor production results, infertility and death. This leads to chronic problems and a subsequent decline in production. The latter type is caused by high-virulence strains. Biotyping, phage typing and RAPD typing contribute to the characterisation of high-virulence S. aureus strains. Administration of antibiotics, disinfection of the environment and vaccination are not able to solve the problems. Therefore, the only effective measure is to cull the entire flock and to restart with a new rabbit population after thorough disinfection. Limiting the introduction of new rabbits in existing rabbitries and reducing contacts between rabbitries to an absolute minimum are currently the only way to face this most difficult problem.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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