* European rabbits as reservoir for Coxiella burnetii

We studied the role of European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) as a reservoir for Coxiella burnetii in the Iberian region. High individual and population seroprevalences observed in wild and farmed rabbits, evidence of systemic infections, and vaginal shedding support the reservoir role of the European rabbit for C. burnetii.

Wildlife play a major role in the maintenance and transmission of multihost pathogens. Understanding the role of host species involved in multihost zoonotic pathogen maintenance and transmission is essential to prevent disease caused by these pathogens. Coxiella burnetii, which is the cause of Q fever, is a zoonotic pathogen that infects multiple hosts. The implication of wildlife in the life cycle of C. burnetii has been reported worldwide, and wildlife might act as a source for humans infections.

European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are native to the Iberian Peninsula and have been introduced into Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina. Domestic varieties of European rabbits are farmed worldwide. Specific ecologic traits (high density, gregarious behavior, high reproductive rate) suggest that these rabbits might become a major reservoir of zoonotic pathogens. However, whether C. burnetii can infect, replicate in, and be shed by European rabbits and contaminate the environment is not known. In this study, we investigated the role of these rabbits in a region to which Q fever is endemic.

Read more:  Emerging Infectious Diseases  Original web page at Emerging Infectious Disease