I feel very informed reading your piece. I have recently lost 4 rabbits to this disease that vets were telling me was vitamin deficiency until I went to the internet and challenged them that it was snuffles. One had a wry neck another paralyzed and another had a lot of snot on the nose. Another I just had to euthanize to stop this horrible disease.

I feel terrible as these were for breeding purposes and two left 3 week old bunnies. My fear is, do the bunnies also harbour this disease?


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Mar 08, 2011
RE Snuffles
by: Karen

I'm so sorry for the lost rabbits and the setbacks to the breeding program.

You've done absolutely the right thing despite that being difficult and even heart-breaking. When you have animals as you describe with frank sickness, there's little else a reputable rabbit breeder can do, except put them down.

Here are our thoughts on what we know of your situation:
First, would it have been possible to isolate the does with their 3-week kits for one more week and then euthanize? In some cases such as wry neck, the answer may be *no*. If necessary, get some benebac and some kitten milk replacer and give the kits a little more weaning time. (In the wild kits are usually fully weaned around 4 weeks old.)

Second, yes -- the bunnies have certainly been *exposed* to snuffles. (It wouldn't be kind to sell any of these babies.) But they are protected by antibodies from the mother's milk until weaning, which is now since the dams have been euthanized. The actual question is - do the bunnies have immune systems strong enough that they can conquer the pasteurella multocida germs and live a normal life? Time will tell.

Statistically, and given the prevalence of snuffles in your herd, you should probably brace yourself for up to 75% or 80% of the bunnies to come down with snuffles. But, and this is the HUGE point -- the 20% that stay symptom-free are pure fuzzy gold! These are the animals that should form the basis of your newly-healthy herd, because these are the ones that have proven to you that their mom can sneeze all over them and they'll stay healthy.

Give them all a disinfected environment and time to grow out. We know it's tempting to throw in the towel on the whole lot of 'em as one after another of the babies gets sick, but hang tough. By 6 months old, most of the sneezers will have identified themselves.

If there are any keepers left, they will more than make up for this whole season of illness, death and life.

We shared the story of our fight with snuffles at (or find the link on the Rabbit Diseases page).

Lastly, let me say it again - kudos to you because you've done the right thing.

We wish you the best of luck going forward.

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