Encephalitazoon Cuniculi

E. Cuniculi is a single cell protozoa parasite which lives in a rabbits' kidneys and after injecting its spore into dehydrated cells, migrates to the brain when the rabbit is suffering from dehydration or stress.  The parasite causes cysts develop on the brain - the particular area of the brain where a cyst grows will affect the area of the body that particular part of the brain controls.  It is the Meninges of the brain which are affected when the animal shows balance/head problems; I suspect the area working the CNS when the rear end is affected.  The problem has a sudden onset, and can kill very rapidly.The rabbit can be absolutely fine one day, the next it can have serious symptoms. 

There can be a variety of symptoms such as darting eye (occasionally white spots in the eye); head tilt (which can be recovered from); lack of balance which can have a variance in severity from having the animal move around as if it's drunk, to rolling on it's side, to epileptic type fits; urinary incontinence (urine burn diagnosed by loss of fur and red raw skin on hind feet); hind limb paralysis; weight loss. E. Cuniculi seems to affect either the head or the rear end.  Secondary problems can be the cause of death if more severe symptoms aren't exhibited. 

Animals with head tilt, darting eye and/or balance problems are taken to the Vet ASAP, and given Voren Suspension (anti-inflammatory steroid) injection which works for 4 - 5 days.  Depo Medrol is another recommended anti-inflammatory steroid which lasts longer, for 4 - 5 weeks, as well as a course of a suitable dose of Fenbendazole (a large animal wormer) to kill off the parasite.


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