Sarcoptic mange was recently described in the wild European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in north-eastern Mediterranean Spain, the first such infection reported in this species anywhere in the world. This finding has created concern in conservationists and game managers given that an outbreak of mange after a translocation would have catastrophic consequences for naïve rabbit populations in other parts of Spain. A retrospective serosurvey using an 'in house' ELISA test based on the use of a recombinant antigen aimed at determining the rates of contact with Sarcoptes scabiei was carried out on sera from 966 rabbits collected between 1993 and 2010 in Spain. Antibodies were found in 13% of wild rabbits in 60% of the 53 areas surveyed, as well as in 16 of the 17 Spanish provinces and islands studied. Seropositive rabbits were found amongst the oldest samples analyzed and in all studied years. Antibodies were also detected in 36% of rabbits from the protected island of Dragonera, where rabbits have probably not been released since the 1970s. On Mallorca, where 89 rabbits were inspected for both lesions and antibodies, the prevalence of lesions (5.6%) was much lower than the seroprevalence (22.5%), indicating that rabbits often survive infection or that ELISA detects infected rabbits before they develop visible lesions. Seroprevalence was higher in areas with medium levels of rabbit abundance, no restocking and high rainfall. The results show that mange is widespread in rabbits and that the mite is not a recent introduction. Thus, sarcoptic mange could be considered as an enzootic disease in the wild rabbit and so prophylactic measures implemented during rabbit translocations are to be encouraged to avoid local outbreaks in naïve populations. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
|Journal||Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports|
|Publication status||Published - 10 Feb 2012|