ISSN 2398-2985      

Encephalitozoonosis

6guinea pig

Synonym(s): Encephalitozoon infection


Introduction

  • Cause: infection with Encephalitozoon cuniculi, a eukaryotic organism belonging to the phylum microsporidia, in the kingdom Fungi. It is an obligate intracellular parasite. This is not a common disease entity in guinea pigs.
  • Signs: in spontaneous cases, there may be neurologic or nephritis as occurs in other species. Literature reports often finding it only at necropsy.
  • Diagnosis: usually at necropsy with histopathology. Unknown if antemortem testing like in rabbits with protein electrophoresis, serology effective. PCR testing of tissues may be possible.
  • Treatment: no reports in the literature; base on rabbit protocol.
  • Prognosis: grave.
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Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Infection with Encephalitozoon cuniculi, a microsporidian fungi.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Possible exposure to shedding rabbits: pet stores frequently will house baby bunnies and baby guinea pigs in the same enclosure.

Specific

  • Likely pups are infected at a young age.

Pathophysiology

  • Spontaneous infection has been reported.
  • The parasite can cause a multifocal granulomatous encephalitis and multifocal lymphocytic interstitial nephritis; this is similar to lesions seen in other species.

Timecourse

  • Slow: lesions, signs may not show up until aged, or immunosuppressed.

Epidemiology

  • Likely transmitted by ingestion of food or water contaminated with spores, although possibly transplacentally.
  • Has been found in a wide variety of mammals: dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, nonhuman primates and humans.
  • Baby rabbits and guinea pigs should not be housed in the same enclosure (done at many pet stores).

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Wan C-H, Franklin C, Riley K et al (1996) Diagnostic exercise: Granulomateous excephalitis in guinea pigs. Lab Anim Sci 46 (2), 228-230 PubMed.
  • Illanes O G, Tiffani-Castiglioni E, Edwards J F & Shadduck J A (1993) Spontaneous encephalitozoonosis in an experimental group of guinea pigs. J Vet Diag Invest 5 (4), 649-651 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Percy D H & Barthold S W (2007) Guinea Pigs. In: Pathology of Laboratory Rodents and Rabbits. 3rd edn. Eds: Percy D H & Barthold S W. Blackwell Publishing. pp 237.
  • Harkness J E, Murray K A & Wagner J E (2002) Biology and diseases of guinea pigs. In: laboratory animal medicine. 2nd edn. Eds: Fox J G, Anderson L C, Loew F M, Quimby F W. Academic Press. pp 203-246.

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