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Rodents and lagomorphs
Lethal cysticercosis in a pet rabbit
  1. John Graham-Brown1,2,
  2. Paul Gilmore2,
  3. Frances Harcourt-Brown3,
  4. Heather Eastham3 and
  5. Diana Williams1,2
  1. 1 Infection Biology, University of Liverpool Institute of Infection and Global Health, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2 Liverpool Veterinary Parasitology Diagnostics, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  3. 3 Crab Lane Vets, Harrogate, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr John Graham-Brown; xp0u405d{at}


A one-year-old neutered female crossbreed rabbit died unexpectedly after initially responding to symptomatic treatment over a three-month period for recurrent gut stasis, inappetence and lethargy. Postmortem examination revealed numerous fibrous tracks within the liver from which flattish ovoid parasites could be extruded. Parasites were also found in large numbers throughout the peritoneal cavity. Histopathology confirmed verminous hepatitis with numerous parasitic granulomas within the parenchyma of the liver containing intact and degenerate parasites. The severity of the parasitic burden and associated liver damage was the presumed cause of death. Intact parasites showed morphological features consistent with Taenia pisiformis at 6–15 days postinfection. Species identification was confirmed by PCR sequence analysis. The rabbit was fed on hay sourced from a local farm, commercially available nuggets and washed vegetables. It did not graze outside. Hay contaminated with dog or fox faeces was the presumed source of infection.

  • rabbits
  • cysticercosis
  • taenia pisiformis

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to manuscript preparation. HE provided initial clinical care and subsequent postmortem report. PG and JG-B were responsible for species diagnosis of T pisiformis by morphological and molecular techniques, respectively.

  • Funding Primers and reagents for molecular analyses were purchased through the University of Liverpool Institute of Veterinary Science’s Veterinary Research Project Support scheme. Manuscript publication fees were covered through the University of Liverpool Library Open Access support.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement PCR sequence for the T pisiformis mitochondrial 16s ribosomal RNA gene fragment described above has been submitted to the National Center for Biotechnology Information GenBank database (accession no MH005823)

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