Parasites of wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) from an urban area in Germany, in relation to worldwide results
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- Frank, R., Kuhn, T., Mehlhorn, H. et al. Parasitol Res (2013) 112: 4255. doi:10.1007/s00436-013-3617-7
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The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) belongs to the most invasive and successful mammalian species, which is distributed nearly worldwide. In Europe, they inhabit broad parts of the mainland and subsequently reached several European islands via anthropogenic diversion. Rabbits can also serve as hosts for numerous parasite species. The parasite and pathogen fauna of O. cuniculus have been well documented in various European countries, although studies in Germany are scarce. Until now, a comprehensive survey combining recent international studies over parasite fauna of wild rabbits had not been conducted. We examined 50 wild rabbits from an urban area near Aachen (Germany) to identify their metazoan parasite fauna, and then compared our findings to previous international investigations. A total of nine parasite species were isolated consisting of four endoparasite species (Cittotaenia denticulata, Graphidium strigosum, Passalurus ambiguus, and Trichostrongylus retortaeformis) and five ectoparasite species (Cheyletiella parasitivorax, Ixodes ricinus, Leporacarus gibbus, Haemodipsus ventricosus, and Spilopsyllus cuniculi). Among the ectoparasites were two verifiable human pathogenic species and two potentially pathogenic species. In comparison to previous studies, a high number of similarities in composition of helminth species fauna were revealed. Furthermore, our results showed partial agreement with international surveys in prevalence and mean intensity of the parasites C. denticulata, G. strigosum, P. ambiguus, and T. retortaeformis.