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Recent advances in the understanding of Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection in domestic rabbits in th


  •  Encephalitozoon cuniculi  Encephalitozoon cuniculi  widespread obligate intracellular microsporidian parasite, which is frequently encountered in laboratory rabbits.
  • Transmission occurs orally following ingestion of contaminated tissues, food items or infected urine. Transplacental infection has also been reported, as well as infection via the respiratory route following inhalation.
  • Infections have been diagnosed in a variety of mammalian hosts including rodents, guinea pigs, monkeys, cats, dogs, sheep, pigs and humans. Following infection the organisms infect mononuclear cells and are carried in the blood circulation to target organs such as the liver, kidney and central nervous system.
  • Many infected rabbits may be asymptomatic, however clinical signs such as head tilt   Head tilt  , urinary incontinence   Urinary incontinence  , posterior paresis and anterior uveitis may be observed.
  •  A survey of 97 pet rabbits in the UK estimated the seroprevalence of E. cuniculito be 52%.
  • Serological surveys have been carried out on wild rabbits in England and Scotland and these were negative.
  • Serological surveys in laboratory animal colonies have shown a prevalence varying between 25-95%.

Personal experience

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Methods of control

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Keeble E J & Shaw D J (2006) Seroprevalence of antibodies to Encephalitozoon cuniculi in domestic rabbits in the United Kingdom. Vet Rec 158 (16), 539-544 PubMed.
  • Suter C, Müller-Doblies UU, Hatt J M et al (2001) Prevention and treatment of Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection in rabbits with fenbendazole. Vet Rec 148 (15), 478-480 PubMed.
  • Boot R, Hansen A K, Hansen C K et al (2000) Comparison of assays for antibodies to Encephalitozoon cuniculi in rabbits. Lab Anim 34 (3), 281-289 PubMed.
  • Ewringmann A & Göbel T (1999) Clinical examination and therapy of encephalitozoonosis in pet rabbits. Kleintierpraxis 44 (5), 357-372 VetMedResource.
  • Katiyar S K & Edlind T D (1997) In vitro susceptibilities of the AIDS-associated microsporidian Encephalitozoon intestinalis to albendazole, its sulfoxide metabolite and 12 additional benzimidazole derivatives. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 41 (12), 2729-2732 PubMed.
  • Stiles J, Didier E, Ritchie B et al (1997) Encephalitozoon cuniculi in the lens of a rabbit with phacoclastic uveitis: confirmation and treatment. Vet Comp Ophthal (4), 233-238 VetMedResource.
  • Franssen F F, Lumeij J T & van Knapen F (1995) Susceptibility of Encephalitozoon cuniculi to several drugs in vitro. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 39 (6), 1265-1268 PubMed.
  • Hollister W S, Canning E U & Willcox A (1991) Evidence for widespread occurrence of antibodies to Encephalitozoon cuniculi (Microspora) in man provided by ELISA and other serological tests. Parasitol 102 (Part 1), 33-43 PubMed.
  • Cox J C & Ross J (1980) A serological survey of Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection in the wild rabbit in England and Scotland. Res Vet Sci 28 (3), 396 PubMed.
  • Gannon J (1980) A survey of Encephalitozoon cuniculi in laboratory animal colonies in the United Kingdom. Lab Anim 14 (2), 91-94 PubMed.
  • Cox J C, Hamilton R C & Attwood H D (1979) An investigation of the route and progression of Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection in Adult rabbits. J Protozool 26 (2), 260-265 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Kotler D P & Orenstein J M (1999) Clinical Syndromes Associated with Microsporidiosis. In:  Microsporidia and Microsporidiosis. Eds: Wittner M & Weiss L M. ASM Press, Washington DC. pp 285-292.
  • Percy D & Barthold S (1993) Pathology of Laboratory Rodents and Rabbits. Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa. pp 211.