Pasteurellosis: The bacterium, Pasteurella multocida, is the
major infectious agent of rabbits.
It is most often transmitted among chronically infected does
and their litters or between breeding males and females.
The bacteria most often reside in the nose, lungs and eye
membranes, but can spread to other areas of
Pasteurellosis of rabbits may take many different forms.
* Respiratory disease, including pneumonia and infection of
the nasal passages and sinuses, is very common.
* Infections of the eye membranes, middle ear, jawbone and
uterus are most often the result of the Pasteurella organism.
* Abscesses are also common and occur when the Pasteurella
organism settles in a specific location.
The rabbit's body responds to this invasion with an
influx of tremendous numbers of white blood cells to fight the
infection. Pus results from the accumulation of dead and dying
white blood cells and tissue cells in the area of the infection.
Pasteurella infections may become incurable if untreated or
improperly treated. Aggressive antibiotic therapy with the
appropriate drugs, however, especially if undertaken early in the
course of the disease, is often rewarding. Many antibiotics have
great difficulty penetrating the relatively inaccessible sites of
most infections and the thick pus seen in rabbit abscesses.
Pasteurellosis is a persistent problem in most rabbitries and
very difficult to eradicate. This disease creates its most
serious problems under conditions of malnutrition, overcrowding,
poor sanitation, temperature extremes, inadequate air circulation
and other stressful situations. Ideally, prospective owners
should obtain their pet rabbit from a Pasteurella- free rabbitry,
but this is not always possible. Regardless of origin, all newly
acquired pet rabbits should be thoroughly examined by a
veterinarian as soon as possible after purchase.
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