Rabbits are susceptible to coccidiosis, which is caused by coccidia. There are about 10 species of these unicellular bacteria, most of which are intestinal. Coccidiosis in rabbits is accompanied by a number of symptoms that are especially noticeable in the autumn-spring time, when the rabbit breeder changes feed. This disease is more dangerous for young rabbits during the period when they stop eating rabbit milk.
What is coccidiosis and why it occurs
Bacteria that are causative agents of coccidiosis belong to the simplest genus Eimeria, of which there are about 400. Moreover, each unicellular has its own characteristics and affects a certain genus of animals and birds. Ten of them contribute to coccidiosis in rabbits.
Initially, existing outside the animal organism, coccidia are an otocyst, which translates as an egg, a bubble. That is, this is the stage of development of protozoa, which has a dense shell that protects the parasite from external factors.
In the form of otocysts, the virus enters the body of a sick rabbit and in the intestine becomes sporositis, which is a spindle. That, in turn, seeps into the intestinal epithelium and there is converted into a schizont – the next stage of development of protozoa.
Schizont is a roundness that can instantly grow. It acts on the epithelium, destroying its cellular structure, due to which it penetrates into the submucosal layer. Here the schizont is divided, as a result of which several meroosites with one core are formed. They are shaped like a spindle and serve to seep back into the intestinal mucosa and multiply there.
Some of the formed meroosites are formed into gametes – germ cells, which, when merged, give the otocyst. Standing out with feces, it aims to infect other healthy animals.
Coccidia bacteria are not afraid of external influences, as they can withstand many of them. The environment is quite favorable for these unicellular organisms. For coccidia, the influence of chemicals that are used to disinfect is common.
If the temperature of the medium is less than 55 degrees, then the virus lives for a quarter of an hour. At a rate of 100 degrees, the duration is reduced to 10 seconds.
If the virus formed by coccidia is present in the rabbit’s body, the pet will automatically become the carrier of the disease, leaving the bacteria in the bowel movements, which is a threat of infection for the rest.
Coccidia do not parasitize in the human body, and in animals they cause the onset and development of coccidiosis.
But also infection with this disease can occur through fluids and food contaminated with feces from a sick rabbit. Bacteria enter the body of a small rabbit through the rabbit’s nipples.
As a rule, plague in rabbits is associated with the inappropriate condition of cells and rabbitry, since dirt is a favorable environment for the life of harmful microorganisms, including coccidia. We list the situations when individuals can become infected with coccidiosis:
- if there are a lot of rabbits in a cage, including small rabbits with adults;
- lack of cleanliness and order in the cell, that is, inappropriate conditions;
- dampness, drafts;
- poor nutrition that does not have the nutrients, minerals, vitamins necessary for the animal’s body;
- high protein content in feed;
- the presence of food products that contain coccidibiosis (wheat, milk, etc.);
- poor quality feed and their frequent change.
How is coccidiosis manifested?
For coccidia to begin to actively parasitize, they need a period of adaptation in the body. Usually it is 2 to 3 days. There are two types of the course of coccidiosis disease in rabbits: hepatic and intestinal. It all depends on what form the damaging coccidia has.
If the disease develops in intestinal form, then it is characteristic, as a rule, for small rabbits who have not reached 3 months of age. In this case, the disease proceeds in an acute form and manifests itself in a loss of appetite, lethargy, fatigue, diarrhea, which is replaced by constipation.
Signs of coccidiosis are expressed in bloating, which usually sag, and in violation of the intestines. As a result of this, the little rabbit quickly loses weight and stops growing.
The hair becomes tousled, it is characterized by a matte shade. If the disease of rabbits proceeds in a severe form, then a nervous system failure is added to the above symptoms. This is manifested in the fact that the rabbit begins to suffer from cramps, because at the time of throwing his head back he falls.
If you do not seek the help of a veterinarian in a timely manner and take measures to prevent the development of the disease, then in two weeks the rabbit will die. Note that not all die, some survive, but continue to be carriers of the virus. It is better to enclose such individuals from other animals in order to say “stop” to the spread of infection.
Despite the fact that the rabbit can be a carrier of a dangerous virus, its meat is completely normal and allowed for consumption.
Less clearly, the symptoms of coccidiosis appear in the form of a liver. Moreover, the duration of the disease varies from a week to a month. The rabbit is characterized by loss of appetite, however, sharp weight loss, as in the previous case, will not be noticeable. In this case, the following symptoms are predominant:
- the mucous membrane and protein of the eye turn yellow;
- development of conjunctivitis.
Over time, the body is depleted, which leads to the death of the individual. If the symptoms are erased, then the pet has a chance to survive, however, while he remains a carrier of the virus. Coccidia will multiply on the biliary tract of the animal.
An autopsy of rabbits with intestinal coccidiosis indicates that the intestinal mucosa contains tiny, seed-like nodules filled with dense contents. Images made using histological studies clearly demonstrate the presence of these white nodules around which a hemorrhage ring, pathological hemorrhage, is possible.
At the same time, the intestinal membrane swells, acquires a red tint and becomes covered with a white coating. The presence of hemorrhages is a frequent symptom of inflammation, in which small hemorrhages appear. The hepatic form is characterized by an increase in the ducts along which bile functions. The liver contains nodes, the filling of which looks like white curd.
The veterinarian can accurately confirm the presence of coccidiosis in the rabbit by taking feces for the study, as well as using other tests.
How to treat coccidiosis
Rabbit coccidiosis eradicates treatment and prevention. To prevent the pet from suffering from coccidiosis, use an aqueous solution of iodine. This method is simple and cheap, while it is very effective. Iodine is an antiseptic, therefore, it is able to break down toxic substances and stop the process of reproduction of coccidia bacteria.
As noted by experienced rabbit breeders, the cost of iodine is comparable to other folk remedies, however, in action it significantly exceeds them. This simple and convenient tool allows you to say "stop" to the disease.
For the treatment of coccidiosis, a 0.01% iodine solution is needed. And they also take 1 liter of water and dissolve 1 ml of 10% iodine in it. Sometimes 2 ml of 5% iodine is added to water. After thorough mixing with the medicine, sick rabbits should be watered.
Another effective means in the fight against coccidiosis are funds based on sulfonamides. They should also be placed in the main feed or mixed with water. In this case, the dosages of such drugs should be considered:
- Sulfadimethoxin. The first day of taking 1 kg of weight is taken 0.2 g of the drug. In the next 4 days, the dose decreases by 0.1 g. After this, you need to take a 5-day break and carry out the procedure again.
- Phthalazole and norsulfazole. The first is given in proportion: 0.1 g of medicine per 1 kg. The second – 0.4 g is used per 1 kg. The course consists of 5 days, after which a break is made, and you can continue to feed the rabbits again after 5 days.
- Furazopidone. Its dosage: per 1 kg 0.05 g or 30 mg. However, this tool is not so effective, therefore, it is used together with other drugs.
These drugs for treatment are very effective. However, if you often resort to the use of drugs from coccidiosis for rabbits, they will cause addiction in bacteria. Therefore, constantly applying them is pointless. During outbreaks of infections, it is best to alternate sulfonamides with other drugs.
In particular, these are Baykoks and Solikoks. The first contains toltrazuril as the main active ingredient, and the second contains diclazuril. These components actively influence harmful coccidia, and also are not addictive, which allows for quality treatment.
The Baykoks drug can take the form of a 2.5% and 5% solution. Dosage of the first: 1 ml per 1 liter of water. A 5% solution of the drug is used depending on the weight of the pet: 0.2 ml should be added per 1 kg, while the drug is not diluted with water, unlike the first case.
The treatment process itself is carried out for 14 days. To protect against re-infection, for the prevention of coccidiosis, treatment can be repeated after 5 days.
The drug Solicox is a solution which, per 1 ml, has 2.5 mg of the active substance diclazuril. It is also used depending on the weight characteristics of the rabbit: an animal weighing 1 kg should solder 0.4 ml of the substance. The solution is mixed with water, after which it is given to the animal.
Coccidiosis should be treated with this agent for 2 days, and then repeated after a 5-day break. If the drug is given to a rabbit that has become a carrier of infection, then treatment with it can be carried out throughout the life of the pet. In this case, the course is applied no more than 1 time per month.
In order to cure coccidiosis and say “stop” to the disease, rabbits are supplemented with vitamins of groups A and B1 to the main food, which will bring additional benefits to the animal. In addition, it is advisable to water the pet with products that contain beneficial bacteria (kefir, acidophilus, yogurt). From time to time, you need to change the diet, a smaller role is given to protein-containing foods. In this regard, many rabbit breeders are wondering if rabbits can eat meat.
If you need to replace one feed with another, then this is done gradually, step by step, so that the pet has time to get used to a new diet, and the stomach does not cause rejection.
Why coccidiosis prevention measures are needed
Prevention of coccidiosis in rabbits will prevent pets from possible dangerous consequences that could lead to its death. If in time to carry out prevention, then the disease can say "stop." Otherwise, isosporosis forms. Therefore, the treatment of coccidiosis in rabbits must be taken seriously.
Particular attention is paid to precautions when growing young individuals. Small rabbits are kept in small groups, without accumulations in a small space.
In this case, individuals located in the same cage should not differ much from each other in age.
Particular attention should be paid to the order in the cell: it needs to be cleaned and disinfected regularly, since dirt is a favorable environment for the parasitic activity of viruses. To eliminate coccidia, chemicals will not help, the use of a blowtorch for disinfection will be more effective.
The cage in which the pets live must be fenced off from strong gusts of wind and drafts. And also dampness should be excluded. After the rabbit got rid of coccidiosis and became healthy again, it must be kept separate from other animals, and it is better to send it for slaughter. This is because the ill pet remains forever a coccidiosis virus carrier.
It is important that the feces do not enter the food and water needed by the pet. Therefore, food does not need to be thrown to the bottom of the cage, where such mixing can occur. The water in the drinker should not stagnate, and therefore it must constantly be changed.
Food should contain all the necessary components, including vitamins, minerals, and foods and feeds are of high quality and freshness. Moreover, the proportion of protein from the entire diet does not exceed 10% for one individual.
Do not give your pet bran, alfalfa, marsh herbs, because they do not say coccidiosis "stop", but contribute to the disease. Coccidiosis can occur at a time when the rabbit breeder transfers the pet from one feed to another.
To avoid stress and weakening the state of the rabbit, it is necessary to accompany the transition to a new feed gradually. If you give a new feed right away, the body will not accept the change, and the pet may become ill.
Preventive measures include hygiene of the room where the rabbit lives, as well as the timely use of medications. An economical and simple option is to use a solution of water with iodine. It is given to pregnant rabbits, who carry the baby for 25 days. To carry out drinking, to begin with, add 100 ml of a 0.01% solution to water daily.
Similarly, the rabbit is treated up to 5 days of feeding a small animal, then you need to interrupt the course of treatment and resume after 5 days. On day 10–25 of lactation: 0.01% iodine solution is mixed with 200 ml of water daily. Thanks to these measures, it is possible not only to protect the pregnant rabbit and her future offspring from coccidiosis, but also to prevent the spread of infection to young animals. Vaccinated rabbits also better resist coccidiosis.
Preventive measures begin after the pet has stopped feeding on mother’s milk.
During the first 10 days, the rabbit is fed with a 0.01% solution in an amount of 50 ml per head. After a 5-day break, in the next 15 days, the concentration of the solution is increased to 0.02%. It is used in 70 ml, then you can give 100 ml.
To protect adult rabbits from coccidiosis, the drug Baykoks is used. Its dosage: 1 ml of the product in 1 liter of water. In this case, the medicine is mixed with water and given to the animal as a drink. Every day a fresh solution is prepared.
Treatment is carried out 2 times a year and lasts 2 days. And also measures aimed at prevention are carried out every 30 days in the same dosages. Note that a special vaccine that would prevent coccidiosis in rabbits has not yet been invented.