Monday, 16 October 2017
E.cuniculi the tiny parasite all rabbit owners need to be aware of!
E.cuniculi, or Encephalitozoon Cuniculi, is a parasite which is a relatively common but often unheard of cause of disease in rabbits. Studies show 52% of pet rabbits have been infected with the bug but only 6% ever show signs of disease.
A rabbit infected with E.cuniculi passes the infection on to other rabbits through spores in its urine which are ingested by another rabbit. Once the parasite has entered a rabbit’s body, it is carried in the blood to organs such as the eyes, kidney and central nervous system. This results in rupture of these cells and inflammation resulting in clinical signs including neurological disease (a head tilt or unsteadiness/ weakness of the hind legs), eye problems such as cataracts and kidney problems.
Treatment is aimed at reducing inflammation with anti-inflammatories and killing the parasite with an anti-parasitic medication which is taken daily for 28 days. It is recommended that rabbits living with affected rabbits are also treated with anti-parasitics as there is a good chance they will also be infected. E-cuniculi can survive in a house or hutch for one month but is sensitive to routine disinfectants so it is important to clean the accommodation of affected rabbits thoroughly.