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Encephalitozoon cuniculi in pet rabbits
  1. F. M. Harcourt-Brown, BVSc, MRCVS1 and
  2. H. K. R. Holloway, MA, VetMB, CertVC, MRCVS2
  1. 1 30 Crab Lane, Bilton, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1 3BE
  2. 2 IDEXX Laboratories, Grange House, Sandbeck Way, Wetherly, West Yorkshire LS22 4DN


The results of a serological test for Encephalitozoon cuniculi in 125 pet rabbits are reviewed, together with follow-up studies of clinical cases. Blood samples were taken from 38 asymptomatic rabbits and 87 rabbits showing neurological, renal or ocular signs suggestive of encephalitozoonosis. In the asymptomatic group, six of 26 (23 per cent) apparently healthy rabbits, sampled as part of a health screen, were seropositive; of the remaining 12 asymptomatic rabbits, sampled because they lived with seropositive companions, eight (66 per cent) were seropositive. Fifty-eight of the rabbits with clinical disease showed neurological signs, including head tilt, seizures, ataxia and swaying; three of them also showed renal signs and two showed ocular signs, and these five rabbits were all seropositive. Head tilt was the most common neurological sign in 21 of 23 (91 per cent) of the seropositive cases. All nine rabbits with ocular lesions were seropositive. In follow-up studies of clinical cases, the rabbits showed variable responses to treatment with albendazole, fenbendazole, antibiotics or corticosteroids, and some cases recovered without treatment.

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