A 2-mo-old Vancouver Island marmot (Marmota vancouverensis), housed at a quarantined breeding facility, presented for acute obtundation and vestibular ataxia. Physical examination revealed poor growth compared with littermates, poor nutritional condition, and mild dehydration. The animal's condition deteriorated over 24 hr, and it was euthanized following the development of generalized seizures. No gross abnormalities were observed upon postmortem evaluation. Histologic evaluation revealed severe, multifocal, granulomatous and lymphoplasmacytic meningoencephalomyelitis and interstitial nephritis, with intralesional, intracytoplasmic spore-filled, parasitophorous vacuoles and segmental, multi-organ, fibrinoid vasculitis (disseminated encephalitozoonosis). The etiologic agent was evident by hematoxylin and eosin and Gram-chromotrope stains, and confirmed as Encephalitozoon cuniculi by polymerase chain reaction on brain tissue. Sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer region of the rRNA gene showed 100% homology with E. cuniculi strain IV, which is a newly described genotype. This is the first report of encephalitozoonosis in this critically endangered species.
Vancouver Island marmot