Eimeria species and other coccidial organisms are parasites that can infect rabbits, especially young and recently weaned rabbits.
These organisms live in rabbit intestines and can infect the liver. They are species- or host-specific, meaning that only those that affect rabbits can live in rabbits.
"Coccidia organisms can infect rabbits, especially young and recently weaned rabbits."
The severity of coccidia infection depends on the species of Eimeria, as well as the rabbit's immune state, age, and environmental stresses. Healthy, mature rabbits housed in good environments may only be transiently affected, while young, immunocompromised rabbits kept in poor environmental conditions may actually succumb to infection and die.
How did my rabbit get coccidia?
Your rabbit may have acquired coccidia by eating the feces of a rabbit that has passed coccidia cysts (the dormant phase of the parasite) in its feces. Simply put, your rabbit can get coccidia if she directly eats the contaminated feces of another infected rabbit.
What are the signs of coccidia in rabbits?
Many rabbits that have this disease do not show any symptoms or clinical signs. They simply carry the organism in their intestinal tracts and pass it to other rabbits in their infected stool. But if they do show signs, they may have watery, mucousy, or possibly blood-tinged diarrhea that may be infrequent or intermittent (stopping and starting again). You may notice these other signs, as well:
- lethargy (lack of energy)
- not eating/lack of appetite
- weight loss
- dehydration/not drinking
How does my veterinarian diagnose coccidia in rabbits?
Your veterinarian will likely look at a fecal smear under a microscope or perform a fecal float test to identify the presence of coccidia or its cysts.
What is the treatment for coccidia?
If your rabbit's diarrhea progresses to moderate to severe in intensity, your veterinarian will likely want to hospitalize your rabbit to provide supportive care until she is well enough to go home. Your veterinarian may also recommend treatment at your home with oral medications. During this time, it is essential that your rabbit continues to eat a healthy diet. If your rabbit is not eating, you will have to syringe-feed it to ensure it does not become dehydrated.
"For successful treatment of coccidia, please follow your veterinarian’s directions very carefully."
Since rabbits are coprophagic (meaning they eat their own feces), they can reinfect themselves. It is extremely important to diligently and meticulously clean your rabbit's home environment in order to eliminate all coccidia cysts therefore preventing reinfection.
For successful treatment of coccidia, please follow your veterinarian's directions very carefully.