One of the more common highly contagious diseases transferable between rabbits is Encephalitozoon Cuniculi (E.Cuniculi), and this is why at Barnsley Bunny Boarding we take disease control very seriously, and do not provide outside runs. External runs located in your own private garden at home, are perfectly acceptable for your own pet rabbit as your bunny will not be sharing their living habitat with other people’s rabbits, therefore reducing the risk of spreading diseases are reduced to a minimum. Problems can occur concerning the spread of disease when your rabbit begins sharing external runs situated on lawned areas, which have previously been used by other rabbits hosting the disease
Any rabbit, healthy, young or old is at risk of contracting E Cuniculi from sharing communal hutches and outside runs where diseased rabbits have urinated and the run area has not been disinfected. The disease is spread by spores in the urine which are transferred via an ingestable medium for example grass, although it is possible for rabbits to contract the disease by inhalation. The spores can survive between one and six weeks depending on envionmental temperature, the hotter the weather the longer the spores can remain active.
While over fifty percent of domestic rabbits are born with E Cuniculi, which is passed directly through the placenta from mother to kit during pregnancy, the disease may lay dormant for years and the rabbit may never display signs of the disease throughout it’s lifetime. However in times of stress, for example, minor life changes, rabbits born with a dormant strain of E Cuniculi are susceptible to developing full-blown symptoms. Changes to a rabbit’s life/daily routine may trigger the onset of disease, which may include recovering from illness and/or operation, long term moulting, introducing a bunny companion; changes to family environment, including moving home, new born babies, boarding for the first time. Rabbits are highly sensitive creatures, which survive on familiarity and routine, they become accustomed to their owners face, voice and smell and to their long-term home environment – they do not welcome change.
Loss of balance and head tilt are the most common symptoms of E Cuniculi, although it is important to note that head tilt can also be associated with a number of different rabbit diseases including snuffles which is also contagious. Several symptoms associated with E Cuniculi also include blindness, incontinence, seizures, body paralysis and even death. E Cuniculi is a progressive and debilitating disease, which causes insurmountable and sometimes life changing suffering for the infected rabbit and which is distressing for any owner to witness first hand. To reduce the risk of your rabbit suffering from E Cuniculi maintain or introduce a daily routine into your bunny’s life with regard to feeding, and cleaning times. Ensure you worm your rabbit at least twice a year with Panacur, and ensure boarding facilities disinfect runs and hutches between guests.