E. cuniculi is a tiny protozoal parasite that can cause devastating effects on rabbits. It is relatively common with studies showing that up to 52% of rabbits become infected, however only 6% show outward signs of disease. It is one of the major causes of neurological disease in rabbits.
E. cuniculi is transmitted via infectious spores in the urine. A rabbit can become infected by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Unborn kits may also be infected by the organism crossing the placenta during pregnancy. Once the parasite infects a rabbit, it is carried in the blood circulation to multiple organs including the brain, kidney and liver causing damage.
Signs to watch out for in adult rabbits include:
- Head tilt
- Back leg weakness or generalised unsteadiness
- Urinary incontinence
- Neck spasms
- Eye disease
In addition, inflammation of the eye in young kits may indicate that an infection occurred during pregnancy.
Please talk to your vet if you have any concerns that your rabbit may be currently infected. If required, treatment is aimed at reducing the effects of E. cuniculi along with directly killing the organism. Preventative treatment courses are also available for preventing spread to other rabbits in the same household.
E. cuniculi is sensitive to routine disinfectants and so by applying good hygiene practices to your rabbits’ environment can help prevent this disease.