E.Cuniculi is a disease caused by the parasite Encephalitozoon cuniculi. It is not as well known as Mxyomatosis or RHD diseases but up to 50% of all domesticated rabbits may have been exposed to this microscopic parasite.
Rabbits infected with E.Cuniculi can suffer a variety of illnesses including hindlimb weakness, fits, kidney damage, urinary incontinence and blindness or the sudden onset of a head tilt. This can be so severe that rabbits are unable to stand due to a loss of balance. This can be mistaken for a stroke.
Unlike Mxyomatosis and RHD, rabbits infected with E.Cuniculi can appear perfectly healthy but the illness can flare up at any time. There is also the danger of an outwardly healthy carrier (a rabbit that has the disease without showing any symptoms) infecting other rabbits that they come into contact with. The parasite can also be spread by infected urine as well as from mother to babies. Hutches and runs can also harbour infection despite good hygiene protocols being in place. It is possible for the parasite to affect other species, such as guinea pigs that live with rabbits.
As with all diseases, prevention is better than cure. Treatment for E.Cuniculi can often come too late to reverse the signs of this debilitating disease.
At Cinque Ports Vets we recommend worming with our veterinary recommended wormer to help control E.Cuniculi parasites and intestinal worms in rabbits. If you acquire a new rabbit or your rabbit mixes with other rabbits it is also recommended to administer a worming dose to those rabbits as well.