Short Communication

Subacute Stage of Encephalitozoon cuniculi Infection in Eye Lesions of Rabbit in Turkey


Background: Encephalitozoon cuniculi is an opportunistic microsporidian parasite that can affect a number of different species of mammalian animals and humans. The parasite can pose also threat for rabbits even though it causes several sporadic and asymptomatic infections. Infection of eyes is common and clinical symptom of ocular infection may include uveitis and cataracts. We found out subacute findings in naturally infected animals and show here a first described eye lesions as well as central nervous system and kidneys in Turkey.

Methods: The rabbits (n:171) of breeding units were observed to daily clinical examination for infection of E. cuniculi during three years. The eyes of five rabbits (2.9%) showed white intraocular masses or cataracts in the breeding units during daily examinations. The infection was described clinicopathologically in collected organ samples in the animals. During observation, macroscopically, corneal lesions and opacity and impaired lens were taken into attention as well as hyperemia in central nervous system and kidney. Histopathologically, parasitophorous vacuoles pertaining to E. cuniculi were detected in all three tissues during different routine Haematoxylin-Eosin and Gram stainings.

Results: Degenerative and necrotic changes in epithelium of cornea and lens and also neurons and tubules were predominantly observed in addition to nonpurulent interstitiel nephritis and encephalitis.

Conclusion: The results from study lead to subacute findings especially in eye during natural E. cuniculi infections following asymptomatic and latent changes among breeding colony. The lesions indicated sub-acute stage of E. cuniculi infection in eye lesions of rabbit in Turkey.

Harcourt-Brown FM, Holloway HK. Encephalitozoon cuniuli in pet rabbits. 2003; Vet Rec. 152(14):427-31.

Pan Y, Wang S, Liu X, Li R, Sun Y, Gadahi JA. Seroprevalence of Encephalitozoon cuniculi in Humans and Rabbits in China. Iran J Parasitol. 2015; 10(2):290-5.

Baneux PJ, Pognan F. In utero transmission of Encephalitozoon cuniculi strain type I in rabbits. Lab Anim. 2003; 37(2):132-8.

Künzel F, Joachim A. Encephalitozoonosis in rabbits. Parasitol Res. 2010; 106(2):299-309.

Wasson K, Peper RL. Mammalian microsporidiosis. Vet Pathol. 2000; 37(2):113-28.

Hinton M. Kidney disease in the rabbit: A histological survey. Lab Anim. 1981; 15(3):263-5.

Leipig M, Matiasek K, Rinder H, Janik D, Emrich D, Baiker K, Hermanns W. Value of histopathology, immunohistochemistry, and real-time polymerase chain reaction in the confirmatory diagnosis of Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection in rabbits. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2013;25(1):16-26.

Wolfer J, Grahn B, Wilcock B, Percy D. Phacoclastic uveitis in the rabbit. Prog Vet Comp Ophthalmol. 1993; 3: 92-97.

Peiffer RL, Pohm-Thorsen L, Corcoran K. Models in ophthalmology and vision research. In: The Biology of the Laboratory Rabbit. 2nd edn. Eds P. J. Manning, D. H. Ringler, C. E. Newcomer. San Diego, Academic Press. Pp. 1994; 410-34.

Stiles J, Didier E, Ritchie B, Greenacre C, WillisM, Martin C. Encephalitozoon cuniculi in the lens of a rabbit with phacoclastic uveitis: Confirmation and treatment. Vet Comp Ophthal. 1997; 7: 233-238.

Felchle LM1, Sigler RL. Phacoemulsification for the management of Encephalitozoon cuniculi-induced phacoclastic uveitis in a rabbit. Vet Ophthalmol. 2002; 5(3):211-5.

Berkin S, Kahraman MM. Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection of rabbits in Turkey. Vet J Ankara Univ. 1983; 30: 397-06.

Eroksuz Y, Eroksuz H, Ozer H, Cevik A, Unver O. A survey of Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection in rabbit colonies in Elazig, Turkey: Pathomorphologic and serologic (carbonimmunoassay test) studies. Isr J Vet Med. 1999; 54(3): 73-7.

Ozkan O, Ozkan AT, Zafer K. Encephalitozoonosis in New Zealand rabbits and potential transmission risk. Vet Parasitol. 2011; 179(1-3):234-7.

Sandmeyer LS, Bauer BS, Grahn BH. Diagnostic Ophthalmology. Can Vet J. 2011; 52(3): 327–328.

Csokai J, Joachim A, Gruber A, Tichy A, Pakozdy A, Künzel F. Diagnostic markers for encephalitozoonosis in pet rabbits. Vet Parasitol. 2009; 163(1-2):18-26.

Maxie MG, Youssef S. In: Jubb, Kennedy & Palmer's Pathology of Domestic Animals, Chapter 3, 5th Ed., Saunders W B Co; USA. 2011; p433-434.

Eroksuz H, Eroksuz Y, Metin N, Ozer H. Morphologic examinations of cases of naturally acquired encephalitozoonosis in a rabbit colony. Turkish J Vet Animal Sci. 1999; .23: 191-5.

Künzel F, Gruber A, Tichy A et al. Clinical symptoms and diagnosis of encephalitozoonosis in pet rabbits. Vet Parasitol. 2008; 151(2-4):115-24.

Habenbacher B, Klang A, Fragner K, Dinhopl N, Künzel F, Weissenböck H. Comparative evaluation of specific methods for labeling of Encephalitozoon cuniculi in paraffin wax-embedded tissue samples. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2012; 24(2):370-5.

IssueVol 13 No 2 (2018) QRcode
SectionShort Communication(s)
Encephalitozoon cuniculi Eye lesions Clinicopathology Subacute findings

Rights and permissions
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
How to Cite
ÖZKAN Özcan, ALCIGIR ME. Subacute Stage of Encephalitozoon cuniculi Infection in Eye Lesions of Rabbit in Turkey. Iran J Parasitol. 2018;13(2):301-309.