E. Cuniculi in Rabbits

What is E.Cuniculi?

Encephalitozoon Cuniculi (E. Cuniculi) is a parasite that lives in the cells of rabbits and other animals. The parasite affects the central nervous system and kidneys of the rabbit. It can lay dormant for months, years or the whole rabbit’s life without showing any clinical signs. It’s believed that half of all domestic rabbits are infected with the parasite. When active the parasite can cause a lot of serious health problems.

How do rabbits get infected with E. Cuniculi?

  • Rabbits can be born with the E. Cuniculi parasite; infected pregnant does can pass on the parasite to their young through the womb.
  • Infected rabbits release contaminated spores through their urine which can be absorbed orally by other rabbits. Infected rabbits can spread these spores throughout their lifetime; contaminated spores can remain in the environment for up to a month.

What does E. Cuniculi do to rabbits?

  • The parasite infects the kidneys and brain and causes granulomas (lesions). These lesions can also develop in other parts of the body. The lesions can seriously affect the central nervous system and function of the kidneys.
  • Stress is believed to be the main trigger for activating the parasite.

Signs of E. Cuniculi

  • Head tilt
  • Loss of balance
  • Paralysis of hind legs
  • Fitting
  • Blindness
  • Renal failure

The clinical signs are as a result of the damage to the nervous system and other organs.

If you notice any of these symptoms take your rabbit to a rabbit savvy vet immediately. There may be other reasons for the symptoms, however, any of these needs to be addressed without delay.

Treatment

Panacur can be prescribed for 28 days to kill the parasite. The clinical signs will also need to be treated, however, some damage may be irreversible particularly damage to the central nervous system and vital organs.

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