Coccidia are microscopic parasites. They are found in the intestines and liver of rabbits. The oocysts (eggs of coccidia) are passed in the faeces (droppings).
Coccidia oocysts are found in food or soil contaminated with infected droppings. The oocyst has a hard shell and can survive on the ground for a long period of time. The oocyst becomes infective 1-4 days after being passed.
· Watery to mucoid diarrhoea
· Weight loss, depression, weakness, dehydration and collapse
· Rabbit may stop eating
· Poor growth and/or death in young or unwell rabbits
· Some rabbits can carry coccidia and not show any signs of illness
Intestinal coccidia are usually seen in young, recently weaned rabbits between 4-16 weeks of age and occasionally in older rabbits.
Liver coccidiosis can occur at any age.
A faecal flotation test is done on the droppings to find the oocysts.
Rabbits with coccidiosis can be treated with anti-protozoal drugs including Toltrazuril or Trimethoprim sulphonamide. Treatment of secondary bacterial infections may also be necessary. In severe cases rabbits need to stay in hospital for fluid therapy and assisted feeding. The enclosure should be cleaned thoroughly and all the faeces removed.
· Have a vet check the droppings of all newly acquired rabbits
· Regular faecal checks at least at every annual health check
· Frequent (daily) cleaning of enclosure and removal of droppings
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