Why do we need to know about coccidia?
Coccidia are a protozoan parasite that can infect your rabbit, causing severe liver disease and death.
The main coccidia of concern in rabbits is Eimeria stiedai, which can cause
Liver disease – enlarged, fibrotic, bile duct obstruction
What do coccidia do?
Coccidia spread as eggs (oocytes), which are reingested by other rabbits and the cycle begins again. Where ingested coccidia spread from the duodenum to the bile duct epithelium, this is where they reproduce. Eimeria stiedai can cause bilary duct obstruction, enlarged fibrotic areas of liver and vessels.
These changes can be picked up on ultrasound, but are most definitively detected by faecal float testing to detect oocytes in the faeces of infected rabbits.
Several options to choose from, the best being toltrazuril (a coccidiostat – Baycox) given orally each day for 2 days, then repeated 5 days later.
The best prevention is good hygiene, dry bedding, clean food and food/water bowls, and sunlight exposure to dry out and kill oocysts before they can infect your rabbits!
Keep things dry, clean and well lit!
Hop to it!
- Unusual Pet Vets. Coccidia in rabbits – Handout
- Clinicians Brief. Eimeria in Rabbits: Diagnostic & Treatment Tips. 2008. https://www.cliniciansbrief.com/columns/6/eimeria-rabbits-diagnostic-treatment-tips-0
- CVE. Time Online. Rabbits & Rodents. 2018. Vella, D.