Prevalence and risk factors for Eimeria in rabbits in Dutch animal shelters
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To study the prevalence and risk factors of coccidiosis and its causative agent, Eimeria spp., in domesticated rabbits in animal shelters, 19 official and 14 private shelters sent in randomly gathered, faecal samples from rabbit cages in their facility. The centrifugation-sedimentation-flotation and McMaster method were used to determine the prevalence and quantities of the eleven Eimeria spp. known to infect rabbits. A questionnaire regarding housing conditions and hygiene was used to analyse potential risk factors for Eimeria-prevalence. 90% of the official shelters and 93% of the private shelters and 72% and 89% of the samples, respectively, were infected. Clinical signs of diarrhoea, growth retardation, anorexia and/or death were present in 10% and 23% of the sampled cages, respectively. Mixed infections were common in the samples: 75% in official and 79% in private shelters. E. media and E. perforans were found most frequently in both groups. A multivariate analysis found a correlation between prevalence of Eimeria spp. and changing cage accessories (e.g. toilets) between cages (p=0,041), as well as a correlation between pathogenic Eimeria spp. (i.e. E. intestinalis, E. flavescens, E. magna and E. irresidua) and cleaning cages daily (p=0,005) and every other day (p=0,017). Since no correlation was found between prevalence nor OPG of Eimeria spp. and clinical signs, no conclusion can be drawn about the risk factors for disease. Thus, despite this study showing that infection with Eimeria spp. is common in rabbit shelters, more research is needed for definitive conclusions of the risk factors of developing coccidiosis.