Prevalence of intestinal parasites and risk factor analysis for Eimeria infections in Finnish pet rabbits.

Mäkitaipale J, Karvinen I, Virtala A-M K, Näreaho A.
Vet Parasitol Reg Stud Rep 2017 9: 34-40.


No previous published prevalence studies exist on gastrointestinal parasites in Finnish pet rabbits; internationally, similar prevalence figures remain uncommon. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in pet rabbits as well as to determine the possible risk factors for parasitic infections. We analyzed 2-g faecal samples (n = 398) from pet rabbits and internet-based questionnaires (n = 363) completed by their owners. Owners sent over-night faecal samples to the laboratory, and the samples were quantitatively analyzed within one week using a modified McMaster method. Eimeria oocysts represented the most common parasite found (27%, mean opg 4212). Nematode Passalurus ambiguus eggs were found in 3% of the samples (mean epg 65), while Trichuris leporis eggs and cestode eggs, respectively, were each found in 1 sample (0.25%). We also conducted a risk factor analysis based on the owner questionnaire and the faecal analysis. We limited this to only Eimeria infection due to the low number of positive results for other parasites. In the final multivariable logistic regression model, we identified a young age, multi-rabbit households (with at least three rabbits) and living somewhere other than in a home-like environment as risk factors for Eimeria infection. In similar low-helminth prevalence conditions, we recommend faecal examination and deworming of rabbits according to examination results.