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The reservoir status of rabbits for the maintenance of Ehrlichia ruminantium
The reservoir status of rabbits for a strain of Ehrlichia ruminantium was investigated using six experimental and four controlled rabbits. Each of the experimental animals was intraperitoneally inoculated with 1.5 ml of infective blood from a febrile goat. The effect of the parasite on body weight, packed cell volume, total protein and daily morning rectal temperature was monitored. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed significant differences (p < 0.05) in packed cell volume, total protein and daily morning rectal temperature between the experimental and controlled rabbits. However, LSD test showed no differences between the samples. Following apparent non-reaction to the parasite after 28 days, 4 ml of pooled whole blood from the experimental rabbits was used to inoculate a susceptible goat in order to ascertain the potency of the parasite. The goat died after 15 days and brain squash smears prepared were positive for Ehrlichia ruminantium. The results of the current study indicate that rabbits might harbour the parasite without coming down with infection while retaining its infectivity. The study, therefore, suggests that rabbits might be useful in the maintenance of Ehrlichia ruminantium.
Keywords: rabbits, reservoir status, Ehrlichia ruminantium.
Nigerian Journal of Parasitology Vol. 29 (2) 2008: pp. 67-71