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"Coccidiosis is a dreadful disease that has wiped through many rabbitries, killing off many of their Jrs. Coccidiosis is a highly contagious sporzoal infection in rabbits. Adult rabbits can carry the disease, without showing any signs. younger rabbits are affected much more harshly because their immune systems are not strong enough to fight off the infection.
The parasite has a life cycle that lasts from 4-14 days, starting after the oral ingestion of infected feed, or other contaminated objects. The wall of the parasite (called oocysts) breaks down in the stomach, and spores are released. After the spores enter the cells that line the intestinal wall, the spore starts to divide asexualy, and go off to infect more cells.
The parasite then forms gametes, and start sexual reproduction. The oocysts are shed in the feces. The presence of the Coccidia affects the host cell, some stop functioning, while others increase in size. The cells can no longer properly use nutrients, causing the animal to become malnourished, and in some cases, dehydrated.
Coccidiosis can be brought into your home, or rabbitry many ways. The most common one being when you take your rabbit to a rabbit show, or other event, interacting with other rabbits. You can also bring it home by bringing a new rabbit into your barn.
When an adult rabbit has the disease, but is not showing signs, it is hard to tell that they even have it, and if this rabbit is bred, and has kits, the kits are at risk. The kits seem to start to show signs around 6 weeks of age. If one kit is effected, and dies you can be almost positive the rest have it to.
When a baby is affected by cocci, they will show symptoms such as weight loss, bloody feces or mucus in the feces. However these signs are not necessary for the animal to be affected. A baby can go from looking normal, to dead in less than 15 minutes. The rabbit will start by losing balance, laying on its side, and stretching its head up, front legs forward, and back legs backward, in muscle spasms. they will stay in this stretched out state, and will have spasms (where they stretch out more) every 30 seconds or so. after 5-10 mins of this, they will start to open their mouths, and sometimes will let out a squeal, and bite down on their tongue. All signs that the rabbit is in pain. They will die soon after.
Once you have the coccidiosis in your barn, it takes a lot of hard work, and persistent cleaning and treating to rid it. deep cleaning is a must, to kill all bacteria that is breeding on the cages, on the floor, in trays, and in the feces. Using bleach is not very effective in killing cocci, using products such as household ammonia will be more effective.
There are many different suggested treatments, suggested by many different people. The best bet is to find out what type (or “Strand”) of Coccidiosis you are being affected with, and decide on treatment based on that information. To find out what Strand of Coccidiosis you have, Penn State suggests a full necropsy. You will usually receive results within 8-10 days of submission.
If your rabbits have been exposed to (another rabbit in your barn showing signs), or affected by Coccidiosis, it is advised that your rabbits go on quarantine. No rabbits entering the barn, or leaving the barn for 4-6 weeks after the last death. This is so that other rabbitries will not be exposed unnecessary to the disease. "