3 Rabbits with snuffles quarantined and then culled, but does it now mean my whole herd are carriers????

I am very recently dealing with "snuffles", I had 3 bunnies come down with it (one was my stunning prize winning buck :(:(), I quarantined them from the herd and then they were culled. Fingers crossed my other rabbits are not showing any symptoms and I am following strict cleanliness rules (not that I wasn't before but now I'm OCD with it!!!) but does it mean that all my other breeding stock are now carriers??

That term baffles me when they say that all rabbits effectively carry pasteurella, it is just environment, circumstances that can cause an outbreak. So wouldn't that mean technically all rabbits are carriers anyway?? I have always brought my stock from healthy parents and lineage (well as far as I'm aware). My vet now tells me that all my stock are carriers whether showing symptoms or not and should not be bred from???

I am heartbroken as yes I'm not breeding on a large scale but now I am totally confused as what to do. I certainly don't want to breed unhealthy animals whether they were pets, shown or anything else.

Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated :)

***** Karen Sez *****
I like your attitude and effort to do the right thing. Anyone that culls an award winning rabbit because it's the right thing to do is a great person in my eyes. It is not easy to cull a beautiful animal, even if it is truly ill.

A carrier rabbit is one with the pasteurella germ living in its body, but which has an immune system strong enough to not get sick. You cannot label your entire herd as carriers. You can perhaps say they have all been exposed to pasteurella. Additionally, because pasteurella is so ubiquitous, rabbit scientists have suggested that the germs exist within every single rabbitry. If this is the case, then every single rabbit has certainly been exposed to pasteurella.

Because not every rabbit has symptoms, some of these rabbits have immune systems that are capable of keeping the rabbit healthy. Even though your rabbits have been exposed, some of your rabbits will probably never get sick. You WANT to keep and breed these very healthy animals.

Which of your rabbits qualify? Hard to say. But I do know you don't need to destroy your whole herd. Keep doing what you're doing. Keep a clean rabbitry, and practice clean habits. Keep a close eye on your herd, but consider each animal as usable, until it starts sneezing. All animals with snotty noses should be culled.

In time, it will become apparent which are the healthy rabbits. You've shown you have the resolve it takes to cull a sick animal. Just keep culling as needed. You'll wake up one morning and realize it's been six months since the last rabbit got sick. Your herd will keep getting more and more healthy.

No, you don't want to breed sick animals. You can place a moratorium on showing or selling rabbits for, say, 6 months, as you wait to see if any other animals will start sneezing. Go ahead and do your breeding. If the doe handles the pregnancy and lactation without sneezing, you'll know she's healthy. That's because having and feeding litters is a stress - no sneezing means her immune system is up to the challenge.

Do these ideas make sense?

Comments for 3 Rabbits with snuffles quarantined and then culled, but does it now mean my whole herd are carriers????

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May 16, 2014
About your sneezing foundation buck
by: ***** Karen Sez *****

So, let's backtrack to your foundation buck, which was "always sneezing," yet the kits were healthy. This means that you can consider the kits' dam(s) to be healthy.

The offspring from this sneezing buck were asymptomatic, as you tell it, meaning they have average to good immunity (a blend of poor and very good immunity, poor from the buck, and very good from one or more dams). Each of them will nevertheless have inherited variable amounts of immune system weakness from that buck. It is now coming out in a kit here and a kit there in the subsequent generations in your herd, as bucks and does which you have kept as healthy pair, and then two sets of not-so-strong immunity combine in certain of their offspring.

Now is where your choices will make a big impact on your herd. At this point, animals that show sneezing and snotty noses due to respiratory infection (not water bowls), should be culled. Several more generations of culling any symptomatic rabbits will result in an increasingly healthy herd of rabbits.

How long do you wait before determining the rabbit is healthy? In my barn I'm always on alert. But that said, if my kits hit 6 months (adulthood in my breed - Rex) and remain symptom-free, I consider them healthy. A few of them, especially does, might later become symptomatic upon kindling and lactation. When this happens, they show themselves to not be healthy after all. I let them finish raising the kits, and then they are removed from the breeding program.

By continually removing symptomatic rabbits, I now have a very healthy herd. It's been years since I had to fight pasteurella, but due to the endemic nature of the germ, I don't let down the guard. It is my belief that over time - years - healthy offspring might even be completely pasteurella-free due to an overwhelmingly strong immunity. (That's how the immune system was designed to work - to protect the animal for the long term.) But until science proves or disproves this theory, I will always be alert for symptoms.

Hope this helps.

May 11, 2014
Kit will be 7 weeks old tomorrow
by: Anonymous

This kit at first always had a wet nose and face but only showed up once it started drinking from the water bowl. It never had white snot till 3 days ago and had the above issues for over 2 weeks. The siblings are not sick that I can see but they are descendants of a very sick doe some supposed excellent breeder sold me. All you explained with the smell and such of your rabbitry fr your rex buck was here except the blowing snot. There were a few who sneezed and lots with runny eyes.

I got this doe well enough to produce and 2 weeks after kindling she got sick again and never recovered. her son and daughter are now getting lose to a year and no issues. The son was bred to my doe no name and had 4 kits. Now I have this lil blue tort buck who is sneezing as has white snot. What do I do??? Other thing is how long do you wait to know if your rabbits are clear of this?? No one else has caught this and everyone says how contagious it is.. but I have never had another rabbit get it when I've had it here. It always just one and never spreads. Also my very first buck I had and used sneezed all the time. This was 3 years ago. I had no idea and no one told me anything. I used him and his kits were all healthy and I still have his daughter Nibbles, who is the dam to No Name who had this lil blue tort kit. So if both rabbits had this, then I guess both sides of the breeding had in in their genes. I hope I am making sense. So maybe that why he is sick? But the odd thing is never had issues till he was always soaking his face in the bowl....

Apr 23, 2013
Thank you for your response
by: Anonymous

Hi Karen
Thank you for your response to my question and yes what you said does make sense. But since writing my question I now have the scenario where I have 2 does that had already been mated before the snuffles outbreak they are both due in a week. One doe is fine (touch wood) and the other doe has in the last few days starting sounding sporadically snuffly, has the slightest wet nose (again it is sporadic) no sneezing as of yet. She has now been quarantined and I'll be honest I had her all booked in to be euthanized and then because she seemed fine 24 hrs later I cancelled. I really don't know what to do, your site is very informative and really has been helpful but now I feel like I'm in a catch 22, because some say if they get over it themselves then they have the immune system to deal with (and she was moved to a new hutch recently and is pregnant) but then am I just clutching for straws??? this will be her first litter and she is a real valuable bloodline. I think I already know the answer but one can always hope!!!

***** Karen Sez *****
If the doe has the immune system to deal with the sneezing she'll get over it, is technically true, however why did she start sneezing in the first place? The flaw in the reasoning is found in the nature of the pasteurella germ - it is nearly impossible to "cure," and when a rabbit becomes symptomatic it is already an indication that the immune system isn't strong enough.

Your "iffy" doe will probably become snotty at some point during pregnancy/lactation, as reproduction is a significant stress on the doe's reserves. Nevertheless, you probably made a wise choice to temporarily spare the doe, since her bloodlines are valuable. Keep her in quarantine, permit her to raise her kits, wean them early (4 - 4.5 weeks), and then depending on her symptoms, make a decision on the next steps. (We can always hope she DOESN'T get worse!)

Also, the litter will need to be closely watched. Any kits that remain healthy are genetic gold.

Wishing you the best outcomes!

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