E.Cuniculi (Encephalitozoon Cuniculi) is a parasite that lives in the rabbit's body cells. It is estimated that over 50% of domestic rabbits carry this parasite but only a small percentage of these go on to develop problems...
It is only within the last 10 years that significant research into this disease has been carried out and it remains a hotly debated topic. It is a relatively rare but seriously debilitating disease which all rabbit owners should be aware of.
E.Cuniculi (Encephalitozoon Cuniculi) is a parasite – a small protozoan - that lives in the rabbit's body cells. The parasite is absorbed into the intestines and causes lesions on the kidneys, brain and other areas. It is estimated that over 50% of domestic rabbits carry this parasite but only a small percentage of these go on to develop problems. It can be passed down from a mother to her babies or through contact with other infected rabbits, humans and birds, or merely through contact with spores.
Problems occur when the parasite attacks the rabbit's nervous system. Some studies suggest that stress or other illness may trigger this but it can often appear to come out of the blue.
- convulsions or fits
- head tilt
- loss of balance
- partial paralysis
- coma or even death
Prevention / Treatment
Many vets are now recommending a worming treatment called Panacur. Dependent on opinion, a one-off course of 28 days is usually sufficient although some recommend that this be administered four times a year to prevent reinfection.
Panacur can also be used as treatment to rid the rabbit of the parasite after symptoms appear, however, it is not a treatment for the results of E. Cuniculi i.e. if your rabbit has already suffered these symptoms it will not "cure" the rabbit.
Depending on severity of symptoms, some rabbits can be nursed back to health but may be left with a permanent disability such as a head tilt.