Background: Pasteurella multocida causes numerous economically relevant diseases in livestock including rabbits. Immunisation is only variably effective. Prophylactic antibiotics are used in some species but are contra-indicated in rabbits, due to their adverse effects on the rabbit microbiota. There is therefore a substantial need for alternative forms of infection control in rabbits; we investigated the effect of oral β-glucan on P. multocida infection in this species. Results: Thirthy-five New Zealand White rabbits were randomly divided into five groups of seven animals. Three groups were inoculated with Pasteurella multocida intranasally (in.), a physiologically appropriate challenge which reproduces naturally acquired infection, and received either (1-3), (1-6) β-glucans or placebo. Four other groups were inoculated both in. and intramuscularly (im.), representing a supra-physiological challenge, and received either (1-3), (1-6) β-glucans, antibiotic or placebo. β-glucans given prophylactically were highly effective in protecting against physiological (in.) bacterial challenge. They were less effective in protecting against supra-physiological bacterial challenge (in. and im.), although they extended survival times. This latter finding has practical relevance to breeders as it extends the window in which heavily infected and symptomatic animals can be salvaged with antibiotics. Conclusions: In our study, (1-3), (1-6) β-glucans were highly effective in protecting against a model of naturally acquired P. multocida infection and extended survival times in the supra-physiological model. Enrofloxacin was effective in protecting against supra-physiological infection. We are currently reviewing the use of combined prophylaxis.
- Pasteurella multocida
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