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Snuffles in Rabbits - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

 
By Ana Diaz Maqueda, Biologist specialized in ethology. July 23, 2019
Snuffles in Rabbits - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

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Pasteurella in rabbits, also referred to as snuffles in rabbits, is an infectious and contagious disease. This infection has numerous clinical variants and can affect various organs in a rabbit’s body. Various forms of pasteurellosis can occur, classified as localized and generalized. Generally, snuffles in rabbits symptoms include respiratory conditions, although not all are caused by Pasteurella sp. Although these bacteria are the cause of the infection, other pathogens such as Bordetella bronchiseptica, which are secondary, can aggravate the general conditions (pseudomonas, staphylococci ...).

For more about the causes, symptoms and treatment of snuffles in rabbits, keep reading here at AnimalWised.

Snuffles in rabbits: causes

Pasteurella in rabbits is a disease that appears, above all, in overcrowded places where rabbits are raised and kept. Mishandling of environmental conditions, in addition to the confinement of rabbits, can facilitate the onset of this disease. The most common causes of snuffles in rabbits include:

  • Temperature. Low temperatures can cause a decrease in blood flow in the superficial areas of the respiratory system. Additionally, high temperatures can induce ciliary body hyperactivity in bronchial epithelial cells, affecting their functionality.
  • Humidity. An excess of moisture decreases the effectiveness of a rabbit’s immune system. On the other hand, a dry environment increases mucus viscosity thereby affecting cilia activity.
  • Chemical air pollution. Rabbits housed in overcrowded conditions produce a large amount of gases such as methane, ammonia or carbon dioxide. These gases are harmful to a rabbit’s respiratory system, which causes an increase in respiratory rate, loss of cilia of the bronchial epithelium, hemorrhages, edemas and bronchial spasms.
  • Mechanical factors. Dust produced by hay, feed, bedding, etc. can irritate a rabbit’s respiratory mucosa and facilitate the entry of unwanted microorganisms.
  • Biological air pollution. In closed environments with poor ventilation. In this such environment, the microbial or fungal environmental flora is inhaled, thereby causing infections.

For more, read about the most common diseases in rabbits.

Snuffles in Rabbits - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment - Snuffles in rabbits: causes

Snuffles in rabbits: symptoms

It’s important to note that pasteurella in rabbit symptoms are generalized, meaning that they can be difficult to identify and are easily confused with other infections. Strains of Pasteurella multocida from the nostrils are able to reach other organs in a rabbit’s body, causing a wide variety of clinical conditions. If snuffles in rabbits spreadm it can cause:

  • Otitis media and torticollis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pericarditis
  • Subcutaneous or internal organ abscesses
  • Reproductive tract condition: metritis and orchitis
  • Septicemia

The main pasteurella in rabbits symptoms include:

  • Mucopurulent nasal discharge
  • Abnormal breathing noises
  • Sneezing
  • Eye watering
  • Head tilting
  • Matted fur
  • Sores on the skin
  • Respiratory difficulty, frequently associated with conjunctivitis

This set of symptoms is are often linked to the appearance of rhinitis or coryza, the most common form of pasteurellosis infection in rabbits. Rhinitis refers to the inflammation of the mucosa within the nasal passages, and causes sneezing, audible breathing sounds and serous or mucopurulent secretion.

For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss why my rabbit is sneezing, as well as its most common causes and treatment.

Snuffles in rabbits: diagnosis

If you notice any of the above symptoms, we recommend consulting your veterinarian. After a proper in depth physical examination, a veterinarian will be the one to diagnose a pasteurella infection in a rabbit. The detection of clinical symptoms (rhinitis, conjunctivitis, torticollis, etc.) is not sufficient enough to confirm the presence of a pasteurellosis infection in rabbits. In order to diagnose this infection appropriately, a microbiological culture will be necessary. An ELISA test may also be necessary in order to detect antibodies in the blood.

All of these diagnostic techniques should be combined, especially since acute infections may not be detected by only an ELISA test, and chronic infections may not yield positive results in cultures.

Snuffles in Rabbits - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment - Snuffles in rabbits: diagnosis

Snuffles in rabbits: treatment

Theoretically, Pasteurella multocida is sensitive to a wide range of antibiotics. However, antibiotic therapy such as penicillin, penicillin-streptomycin or tetracycline, is relatively ineffective due to the recurrence of clinical signs after treatment has ended. In addition, these antimicrobials are not recommended for snuffles treatment as they cause imbalances to a rabbit's bacterial digestive flora, in favor of gram-negative germs. This can then cause the appearance of enterocolitis in rabbits, due mainly to a a decrease in the percentage of anaerobes (lactobacilli) essential for digestion.

The drugs most commonly used for pasteurella in rabbits treatment include oxytetracyclines dissolved in drinking water, chlortetracyclines, and fluorinated quinolones of the norfloxacin and enrofloxacin type (oral). The addition of chlortetracycline to a rabbit’s diet has also has shown to be effective in reducing the prevalence of Pasteurella spp. in the upper respiratory tract of an apparently healthy adult rabbit. It must, however, be noted that that it fails to decrease prevalence in young rabbits.

Snuffles in rabbits: prevention

There are different ways to prevent pasteurella in rabbits. As we’ve already mentioned, the appearance of this infection is more common on rabbit breeding farms, which do not meet the correct sanitary requirements and are overcrowded.

When it comes to recovery of snuffles in rabbits, as well as prevention, maintaining good aeration of your farm is essential in preventing the accumulation of toxic gases. Additionally, reducing the number of animals per square meter reduces the prevalence and possibility of infection. There are also vaccines used to prevent pasteurellosis in rabbits. Therefore, your rabbit vaccination plan must be strictly followed from when females are pregnant, specifically so that they can pass immunity to their babies. Additionally, during recovery, a veterinarian may suggest a change in diet and check-ups.

Snuffles in Rabbits - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment - Snuffles in rabbits: prevention

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Snuffles in Rabbits - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment, we recommend you visit our Breathing diseases category.

Bibliography
  • Coudert, P. (1986). La pasteurelosis no respiratoria del conejo. Cunicultura, 11(60), 0046-48.
  • Fuentes, R. L. (1994). Ficha de patología: Pasteurelosis. Boletín de Cunicultura, (72), 37-40.
  • Martínez, L. S., Martín, D. V., García, J. O., & Arenas, J. M. C. (2007). Pasteurelosis: Principal patología respiratoria en cunicultura industrial. Boletín de cunicultura lagomorpha, (150), 14-24.
  • Villares, J. A., Auxilia, M. T., Luque, I., Maldonado, A., Perea, A., & Tarradas, C. (1997). La Pasteurelosis del conejo. Lagomorpha: revista de la Asociación Española de Cunicultura, (94), 33-38.
  • Zanirato, M. G., & Facchin, E. (1990). Pasteurelosis respiratoria del conejo. Cunicultura, 15(84), 0053-55.

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