The European wild rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus is a widespread mammal that may act as host for ectoparasites and reservoir for some vector-borne pathogens. Study aims were to investigate the arthropod fauna that may infect the European wild rabbit, to assess the ecological indexes and to investigate tick preferred attachment sites. The survey was conducted on 105 wild rabbits hunted by poachers in a Mediterranean woodland area in the province of Ragusa. Animals were individually examined for ectoparasite presence and the tick load assessed on eleven body anatomical sites. Ticks and fleas were found on 79 (75.2%) and 3 (2.9%) out of the 105 examined rabbits, respectively. Three tick species were identified; Rhipicephalus pusillus was the most abundant followed by Rhipicephalus turanicus and Ixodes gibbosus. Although ticks were found on all anatomical sites, ears, forelimbs, and abdomen were those more frequently infected. All the collected fleas were identified as Spilopsyllus cuniculi. Some of the ectoparasite species found on examined wild rabbits are recognized as potential vectors of pathogens of animal and human concern, such as, Rickettsia sibirica mongolitimonae and Rickettsia massiliae. The most abundant tick species found in this study is the main vector of some zoonotic pathogens; therefore, the possible role of O. cuniculus in their maintenance should be further investigated.

Ectoparasites of wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Southern Italy

Napoli E.
Primo
;
Gaglio G.;Spadola F.;Brianti E.
2021

Abstract

The European wild rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus is a widespread mammal that may act as host for ectoparasites and reservoir for some vector-borne pathogens. Study aims were to investigate the arthropod fauna that may infect the European wild rabbit, to assess the ecological indexes and to investigate tick preferred attachment sites. The survey was conducted on 105 wild rabbits hunted by poachers in a Mediterranean woodland area in the province of Ragusa. Animals were individually examined for ectoparasite presence and the tick load assessed on eleven body anatomical sites. Ticks and fleas were found on 79 (75.2%) and 3 (2.9%) out of the 105 examined rabbits, respectively. Three tick species were identified; Rhipicephalus pusillus was the most abundant followed by Rhipicephalus turanicus and Ixodes gibbosus. Although ticks were found on all anatomical sites, ears, forelimbs, and abdomen were those more frequently infected. All the collected fleas were identified as Spilopsyllus cuniculi. Some of the ectoparasite species found on examined wild rabbits are recognized as potential vectors of pathogens of animal and human concern, such as, Rickettsia sibirica mongolitimonae and Rickettsia massiliae. The most abundant tick species found in this study is the main vector of some zoonotic pathogens; therefore, the possible role of O. cuniculus in their maintenance should be further investigated.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11570/3202888
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