The aim of this study was to investigate whether feces from rabbits experimentally infected with Lawsonia intracellularis were infectious to foals. Two rabbits were infected with L. intracellularis, while two rabbits served as controls. Eight foals received daily feces from either the infected or the control rabbits. All rabbits and foals were monitored daily for clinical signs for the entire study period (21. days for rabbits, 42. days for foals). Feces and blood were collected for the PCR detection of L. intracellularis and serologic analysis, respectively. None of the infected rabbits or foals developed clinical signs compatible with proliferative enteropathy. All infected rabbits and foals shed L. intracellularis in their feces and all seroconverted. The results support the role of rabbits as asymptomatic amplifiers of L. intracellularis and their role as sources of infection for susceptible foals.
- Equine proliferative enteropathy
- Feco-oral transmission
- Lawsonia intracellularis