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Eimeria stiedae causes most of the white-spotted liver lesions in wild European rabbits in Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom.

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Bochyńska, Diana 
Lloyd, Sheelagh 
Restif, Olivier 


In rabbits, a white-spotted liver can be indicative of one of several disease processes, frequently caused by parasites. To date, the prevalence of white-spotted liver in wild rabbits, Oryctolagus cuniculus, in the United Kingdom is undetermined. We evaluated the prevalence and main parasitic etiologies of this entity in a U.K. population of wild rabbits. Wild rabbits (n = 87) were shot in Cambridgeshire for population control, and cadavers were donated for research. Postmortem examination was undertaken, including gross and histologic hepatic examination. Macroscopic lesions consistent with white-spotted liver were found in 46 of 87 (53%) rabbits examined; most of these lesions were considered to be mild. For 28 of 46 (59%) rabbits with gross hepatic lesions, an etiologic agent was apparent histologically. Eimeria stiedae was detected in 21 of 87 (24%) rabbits, and Calodium hepaticum (syn. Capillaria hepatica) was detected in 7 of 87 (8%). In the subset of rabbits killed in the summer, there was a significant association between white-spotted liver and juvenile age class. There was also an association between white-spotted liver caused by E. stiedae and juvenile age class. When restricting analysis to rabbits with white-spotted liver caused by E. stiedae and submitted in the summer, both juvenile age class and female had significant effects. E. stiedae and C. hepaticum can be transmitted to pet lagomorphs via contaminated vegetation, and to humans in the case of the latter, which demonstrates the importance of monitoring the prevalence of these parasitic diseases in wild rabbits.


Funder: alborada trust; FundRef:


Calodium hepaticum, Eimeria stiedae, coccidiosis, liver, parasitology, pathology, rabbits, Animals, Coccidiosis, Eimeria, Female, Liver, Liver Neoplasms, Rabbits, United Kingdom

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J Vet Diagn Invest

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SAGE Publications