Hi, my herd was exposed to Bordetella while being temporarily housed at another rabbitry. (Some rabbits became snotty and all tests came back positive for Bordetella, but negative for anything else.) When samples were sent to UC Davis, they identified it as a mutated strain of Bordetella.

As soon as I discovered the infection present in the other rabbitry, I got mine out ASAP and became OCD about cleanliness. But, over the past few months, rabbit after rabbit has been sneezing with matted front paws and white snot. I've been culling anything that sneezes three times(not counting while they drink) or anything that shows snot. When I open them up, they have white pustules all over their livers, but their lungs and other organs are clean and healthy. As it's turned out, every single one of my very best had to be culled. All my BIS and RIS animals. The only ones left are juniors and brood animals. I've been dealing with this since November. I had a lull where I thought the problem might be over since March. But in the past week, I've culled 4.

My question though, is if you know what the incubation period usually is? And how fast symptoms might onset? I'm very suspicious of pretty much every animal left, because all but a couple show small rub marks on the inside of their front legs, yet when I spent an entire day and evening sitting in the barn, reading a book and cleaning, I didn't hear a single sneeze.

I've also been taking the precautions of weaning at 3.5-4 weeks. And the most promising kits from does I'm suspicious of have been getting pulled at 10 days and bottle-fed, keeping litters segregated and then separating littermates at 3 weeks. So far, none of the juniors weaned these ways have become symptomatic or shown rub marks.

What other steps should I take?

***** Karen Sez *****

What a heartbreaker to have to cull showstopping rabbits. Been there done that. It's not fun.

Bordetella bronchiseptica incubates for 2-14 days.

You're doing a good job, but I see a couple issues:

First, If it's not pasteurella, and you've taken the steps to demonstrate bordetella but not pasteurella, then treatment options open slightly, especially in younger animals. At the same time, the frequency of false-negatives with pasteurella is significant, as it is fairly complicated to keep P. multocida alive outside the rabbit's body.

Second, there is something more going on with your rabbits between the bordetella, the questionable absence of pasteurella, the spotted livers, and a huge number of sick rabbits in your barn.

Problem is, I can't find any info on liver pustules connected with bordetella. But I DO have a picture of liver pustules at under the coccidiosis heading, have you seen it? Do your rabbit livers look anything like that? Our vet provided a definitive diagnosis of hepatic coccidiosis - those pustules were full of E. steidae.

Have you or the other breeder had animals that seemed a bit off condition, slightly unthrifty, lackluster coats, underweight, thin despite eating like pigs? These would be clues to hepatic coccidiosis (and also to intestinal cocci).

Depending on your feedback, I wonder if your rabbits are sick because they are fighting two serious infections concurrently and it has become too much for their immune systems? If you can eliminate the cause of the liver pustules, I wonder if rabbit immune systems would be better able to eliminate (or prevent) the respiratory symptoms? Can you take a liver with pustules to the vet for testing, to see what's up?

I will be very interested in your input.

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Jul 10, 2013
Sick Bunns
by: nusnancy

Hi, so sorry for your problems~devastating at best. I do have a rabbit knowledgeable vet that visited my friend's brood and put them Enroflaxin x 14 days and Deb (friend ) reports that solved the problem. However, I think Deb noted that the medicine was soooooo expensive (I did not have the nerve to ask how much). Just a thought. Chin up I know this is difficult.

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