The use of soft faeces for the prediction of the caecal contents concentration of Clostridium perfringens in relation with epizootic rabbit enteropathy

C. Romero, N. Nicodemus, A.I. García Ruiz, M.A. Ibáñez, J.C. de Blas

Abstract


Two experiments were conducted to investigate the use of Clostridium perfringens concentration in soft faeces (CPsf) as predictor of C. perfringens proliferation in the caecal contents (CPc) and the development of epizootic rabbit enteropathy (ERE). In Exp. 1, 44 rabbits weaned at 28 or 42 days were used. Animals were fed a commercial diet, not supplemented with antibiotics. Nine days after weaning, rabbits were fitted neck collars from 08:00 to 12:00 am. Afterwards, they were slaughtered and both their soft faeces excretion and caecal contents were sampled in order to determine the concentration (cfu/g) of C. perfringens. In Exp. 2, 38 rabbits weaned at 31 days of age, followed the same procedure to determine the evolution of C. perfringens counts in soft faeces up to 48 days of age. A total of 15 animals showed ERE symptoms. In both experiments, diseased animals presented a greater (P<0.001) concentration of C. perfringens in gut samples than healthy animals. A regression analysis performed in Exp. 1 showed a significant correlation (R2=0.66; P<0.001) between CPsf and CPc concentrations measured for each rabbit. The regression model also included a significant effect of age at weaning (P<0.001), as enumeration of CPc was higher in animals weaned at 28 than at 42 days of age. Weight gain decreased (P=0.06) in Exp. 2 with concentration of CPsf, especially (P=0.03) in older animals, whereas the presence of ERE symptoms impaired growth and increased weight variability at each age.

Keywords


RABBITS; YOUNG ANIMALS; WEANING; DIET; MICROBIAL FLORA; INTESTINES; FAECES; CLOSTRIDIUM PERFRINGENS; INFECTIOUS DISEASES; ANIMAL NUTRITION; DISEASE CONTROL

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2009074-1095