OTHER NEUROLOGIC CONDITIONS
Although less commonly observed, general neurologic signs in rabbits have also been associated with listeriosis and other
infectious causes and trauma.5 In addition to the aforementioned causes in this article, seizures in rabbits may also be caused by hypoxia secondary to
empyema, pneumonia, hepatic lipidosis (terminal stages), or metastatic tumors or may result from the azotemia and electrolyte
imbalances associated with renal disease. Bacterial encephalitis can also cause seizures in rabbits.5 Primary epilepsy has been described, but most of these cases are thought to be associated with encephalitozoonosis or other
forms of meningitis.14
Although rare, cases of rabies have been reported in pet rabbits. Rabbits usually develop the paralytic form of this disease.
Early signs of rabies in rabbits may be nonspecific and include anorexia, fever, and lethargy.17 Thirty cases of rabies in pet rabbits were reported from 1971 to 1997, and most of these cases occurred in rabbits housed
outdoors that were exposed to raccoons.17 One case resulted from an encounter with a skunk. Another report reviewed seven cases of rabies in pet rabbits in New York
state between 1992 and 2001.18 In one of these cases, neurologic signs, which developed about one month after exposure to a raccoon, included blindness
and forelimb paralysis. Because no rabies vaccine is approved for use in rabbits in the United States, pet rabbits housed
outdoors should be protected from contact with wildlife, especially in areas where rabies is endemic or a rabies epizootic
is under way.5
James W. Carpenter, MS, DVM, DACZM
College of Veterinary Medicine
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506
Dr. Carpenter lectured on this topic at the 2006 CVC Central, and this article is adapted from the conference proceedings.
Parts of this article are also adapted from Deeb BJ, Carpenter JW. Neurologic and musculoskeletal diseases. In: Quesenberry
KE, Carpenter JW, eds. Ferrets, rabbits, and rodents: clinical medicine and surgery. 2nd ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders Co,
James W. Carpenter, MS, DVM, DACZM
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