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Zoonoses Public Health. 2008 Apr;55(3):173-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2007.01097.x.

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

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Dipartimento di Patologia e Sanità Animale, Università di Napoli Federico II, via Delpino 1, 80137 Napoli, Italy.


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.

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