Rabbits at risk from E.Cuniculi

5th April 2016

E.Cuniculi is a protozoal parasite that infects pet rabbits throughout the world. It’s widespread in the UK, affecting over 50% of the pet population, and in many of these animals can cause serious and debilitating disease.

What are the signs?

Many animals may be infected with no signs at all, but of those which become ill, we might expect to see any of the following

  • Head tilt – usually the head is held on one side in an odd way
  • Muscle spasms – the neck in particular can show a twisting appearance
  • Incoordination – many become ‘wobbly’ and weak. They may even appear collapsed or paralysed
  • Incontinence – look for dribbling urine, wet fur around the back end or scalding of the skin
  • Kidney disease – the rabbit may drink more, urinate more and have weight loss
  • Eye disease – inflammation within the eye and cataracts are common

If you have a pet rabbit and see any of these signs, we need to see your animal. Call us at Bollington Veterinary Centre on 01625 573375

How is it transmitted?

The parasite lives within cells of the host animal. They form spores which are shed in urine. If food or water becomes contaminated, these spores will be swallowed by another animal who then becomes infected.

The spores are also very resistant and can survive for several weeks in the environment.

Keep everything clean - it’s essential to always provide fresh water and food, and to keep the rabbit’s living area scrupulously clean.

How is it diagnosed?

At Bollington Veterinary Centre, we can take both blood samples and fresh urine samples to check for evidence of the parasite. We send these samples away to our animal laboratories where they can perform ELISA and PCR tests. We’ll talk you through this if we feel the tests are necessary.

Can E.Cuniculi be treated?

Yes, there is a treatment that can be used safely in rabbits. However the effectiveness of this treatment does depend on the site of infection and the degree of damage that has already been done.

If you are in any way concerned that your rabbit may be unwell with E.Cuniculi, call us on {{owner.clinic-main-phone}} to make an appointment.

The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund has produced a very useful fact sheet on E.Cuniculi. You can download it  from their website.

Download the Rabbit Welfare Handout