Encephalitozoon cuniculi causes a wide range of diseases in rabbits. The most common include- head tilt, seizures, hindlimb paralysis, kidney disease and cataracts. However, a fair number of rabbits also appear to survive the infection without showing any of signs. These latter rabbits are subclinical carriers and a primary source of disease exposure in multiple rabbit households, breeding establishments and pet shops. A rabbit can become infected by ingesting food contaminated with urine with E. Cuniculi spores, or inhaling the E. Cuniculi spores. E. cuniculi can also be transmitted in utero.
Many studies have been performed to investigate this parasite, but much is still not well understood. Studies have been undertaken in many countries in Europe and Asia and E. Cuniculi is reported in 7.5% – 70% in different pet rabbit populations. The Melbourne Rabbit Clinic is planning to conduct a study for the prevalence of exposure to E. cuniculi in pet rabbits in Melbourne. Watch this space!