Prevention and treatment of Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection in immunosuppressed rabbits with fenbendazole

Document Type : Full paper (Original article)


1 Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Alexandria University, Edfina, Behera, Egypt

2 Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Alexandria University, Edfina, Behera, Egypt


This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of oral administration of fenbendazole (20 mg/kg body weight) prior to and after experimental infection of immunosuppressed rabbits with Encephalitozoon cuniculi. A total of thirty rabbits were divided into five groups: NN (non-immunosuppressed; non-infected), IN (immunosuppressed; non-infected), IPI (immunosuppressed; protected-infected), ITI (immunosuppressed; treated-infected), and II (immunosuppressed; infected) groups. Fenbendazole was administered as a prophylactic for seven successive days before infection with E. cuniculi and as a treatment for four weeks initiated on the 28th day post-challenge (PC). Experimental rabbits were infected with intraperitoneal injection of 2 × 105 E. cuniculi spores. Parameters evaluated were body weight, detection of spores in urine, serum antibody assay, hematological, biochemical and histopathological changes. The IPI and ITI groups showed a significant better final bwt than the II group. Spores were detected in urine of all infected rabbits from the 28th day PC until the end of the study. The IPI group showed the least values of antibodies (IgG) compared to the ITI and II groups. Concerning histopathological changes, the intensity of the lesions was marked particularly in the II rabbits and to a lesser extent in the ITI rabbits. Noticeable improvement was found in the IPI rabbits. It could be concluded that fenbendazole was effective to some extent in protection of rabbits against E. cuniculi infection, while when administered as a therapeutic no significant effects were observed.