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Purpose: Knowledge about ocular surface microbiota is essential for prophylactic treatment
and the differentiation of infectious diseases. Only few data of pet rabbits are available.
Therefore the aim of the study was to investigate the spectrum and sensitivity of bacteria of the ocular surface of pet rabbits. Methods: Group 1 (n = 15) healthy rabbits without ocular problems <6 years (0.1–5.0 years), group 2 (n = 15) healthy rabbits without ocular problems ≥6 years (6.0–9.0 years) and group 3 (n = 15) healthy, elderly rabbits with serous epiphora (4.0–12.5 years). Swabs were taken from the conjunctival sac bilaterally and tested for anaerobic and aerobic microbiota. Sensitivity testing was done for each bacterial species. Statistical analysis was carried out using Fisher’s exact test, linear model and ANOVA.
Results: Sixty-six microbiota of 34 bacterial species were identiﬁed in 39/45 (86.7%) animals. In all groups both gram-positive (e.g. Staphylococci [20/66]), and gram-negative bacteria (e.g. Acinetobacter [14/66]) were detected in a ratio of 35:31. In group 1 and 3 more microorganisms (number of positive animals and number of bacteria) were detected, then in group 2 (P = 0.03, linear model). Bacteria were highly sensitive to aminoglycoside antibiotics followed by ﬂuoroquinolones, tetracyclines and chloramphenicol. The least effective antibiotics were fusidic acid and polymyxin B/colistin. Conclusions: Microbiota of the ocular surface of pet rabbits are very similar to those of laboratory rabbits described in the literature. However, overall more gram-negative bacteria were detected. Aminoglycosides can be used as a prophylactic treatment in case of corneal trauma.