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Encephalitozoon Cuniculi in Rabbits: Prevention and Treatment

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Every rabbit owner knows that a healthy rabbit is a happy rabbit. That means that taking good care of your rabbit to make it happy does not only mean giving it quality time but also making sure that it gets to eat the proper types of food, and it gets to live in an environment that is safe and clean enough for it. Of course, what also helps is making sure that the rabbit is free from any sort of illness. One such health condition, you should look out of Encephalitozoon cuniculi.

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Encephalitozoon cuniculi are something that all rabbit owners should look out for and be wary of because of how it can potentially lead to more serious health risks. At times, it can even infect humans. But what are Encephalitozoon cuniculi, and what does it do? Where does it even come from? Well, let us find that out together so that you will be able to give your rabbit a home that will allow it to stay healthy and happy.

What is Encephalitozoon cuniculi?

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Encephalitozoon cuniculi is not exactly an illness or a health condition in the strict sense of the word. Instead, this is actually a microscopic parasite that can potentially infect the kidneys and the brain of your rabbit. As mentioned, it can even infect humans at times and may also even cause harm to other animals other than your pet rabbit.

A lot of different rabbits have Encephalitozoon cuniculi in their bodies without even you know that. In some cases, the rabbit already has this parasite and will not show any signs of disease. However, what you should know is that Encephalitozoon cuniculi are actually one of the biggest reasons for a lot of diseases that affect rabbits. As such, you should try to make sure that your rabbit is as free of this parasite as possible.

How is Encephalitozoon cuniculi transmitted?

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Encephalitozoon cuniculi are actually pretty easy to transmit from one rabbit to another that it is quite common for most rabbits to have this parasite in their bodies. While a few of these parasites probably won’t be too much to cause a disease, you should worry when they are abundant enough in numbers because of how it can not only lead to serious diseases and illnesses but also in how it can easily spread the parasite to other potential hosts.

If a rabbit already has Encephalitozoon cuniculi in its body, it can easily transmit it to another rabbit through spores found in its urine. Other rabbits will be able to pick this parasite up when it drinks water that is contaminated with the Encephalitozoon cuniculi spores. In some cases, during the pregnancy of an expectant mother rabbit that is infected, baby rabbits will already have Encephalitozoon cuniculi in them even before they are born. As such, it is important to keep your rabbits safe from Encephalitozoon cuniculi because of how even something as simple as pregnancy can easily transmit it to baby rabbits that are still very much prone to a lot of diseases.

Symptoms of Encephalitozoon cuniculi

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If you want to know whether or not your pet rabbit has Encephalitozoon cuniculi, here are the symptoms that are associated with this parasite:

  • Check the eyes because Encephalitozoon cuniculi spores are able to cross over to the rabbit’s eyes and multiply there. This can potentially lead to cataracts and even something so simple as your rabbit’s eyes tracking from side to side.
  • Head tilting is another indication of Encephalitozoon cuniculi. That is because of how this parasite can potentially lead to neurological diseases that can affect the rabbit’s control over its basic bodily functions. As such, it will be common for your rabbit to tilt its head over to one side involuntarily due to the neurological disease caused by Encephalitozoon cuniculi.
  • At the same time, weakness in its legs is also an indication of the presence of Encephalitozoon cuniculi because of how a neurological disease may cause it to be unable to properly control its legs. At times, this can even lead to paralysis in the legs.
  • Other similar symptoms related to neurological diseases are uncontrollable and sudden spinning and rolling. Seizures can also happen if the condition gets worse.
  • If your rabbit is urinating more than it usually does and is more likely to drink water, there is a chance that it also has Encephalitozoon cuniculi because of how this parasite can lead to kidney problems or even kidney failure.

How is Encephalitozoon cuniculi diagnosed

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If any of the symptoms and behaviors above are present or if anything related to them shows up in your rabbit, take the bunny immediately to a vet to have it checked and diagnosed by a professional. Do not, at all times, diagnose and treat the rabbit by yourself without the assistance or the help of a veterinarian because of how Encephalitozoon cuniculi can also infect you or cause serious diseases in your rabbit and other animals.

Vets usually do a ‘fingerprint’ test to try to detect the presence of Encephalitozoon cuniculi in the rabbit. Most tests done are blood tests. However, what such tests merely show or suggest is exposure to the Encephalitozoon cuniculi spores and not necessarily their presence in your rabbit’s body.

How to treat Encephalitozoon cuniculi

Encephalitozoon cuniculi treatment should only be done after seeing a vet and after getting the proper diagnosis for your pet rabbit. You should never treat it on your own without the supervision of a professional because of how serious this condition is and how it can potentially lead to more dangerous diseases.

Because of how small Encephalitozoon cuniculi is, most treatment options are non-invasive. Instead, what vets will prescribe are medications that are meant to reduce and treat inflammations in your rabbits. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids may be prescribed. Moreover, some treatments are aimed at killing off the Encephalitozoon cuniculi in the rabbit’s body. That is why anti-parasiticides are also given as a way of helping the rabbit recover. Both anti-inflammatory and anti-parasiticides should be given daily for about a month or depending on what the vet prescribes.

How Encephalitozoon cuniculi affect humans

As mentioned, Encephalitozoon cuniculi can also affect humans if exposed to hosts that are infected with this parasite. However, only people with low immune systems are usually at risk of Encephalitozoon cuniculi.

Conclusion – Preventing Encephalitozoon cuniculi

As the age-old adage goes, prevention is always better than cure. This cannot be truer when it comes to Encephalitozoon cuniculi because of how serious this parasite is. Ideally, you would want your rabbit to be blood tested as early as possible for you to know if it has Encephalitozoon cuniculi. If yes, keep it isolated as soon as you can so that it won’t affect other rabbits or animals. The good news is that Encephalitozoon cuniculi can only survive without a host for about a month. But if you want to kill it as early as possible, routine disinfection is the way to go. Always make sure that you disinfect your house or your rabbit’s cage as soon as possible to make sure that Encephalitozoon cuniculi will have no place to propagate.

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