Encephalitozoon Cuniculi (E.Cuniculi), Head-tilt, or Wry Neck in Rabbits
What is it?
From the Ontario Rabbit Education Organization : http://www.ontariorabbits.org/health/healthinfo10.html
Encephalitozoon cuniculi (EC) is a parasite that causes lesions (called “granulomas”) in such organs as the kidneys, liver and brain. Even today, EC is still not well understood in the rabbit community. Theories and opinions regarding transmission, treatment and the severity of the problems caused by this parasite vary widely. To date, none of the theories have really been proven or not proven by a definitive study. Because EC is a protozoon, it is difficult to find this organism in the live rabbit, and often, the protozoan is not even found during a post-mortem exam. …
Some experts feel that the majority of rabbits who have been exposed to EC do not suffer any health consequences as a result of this exposure. Others feel that EC is responsible for a whole host of health problems, including renal failure, convulsions, torticollis (head tilt or wry neck), hind limb weakness or loss of balance, nystagmus (eye twitching) and incontinence. Rabbits affected by EC before they are born (via the placenta) may develop lesions around the eyes, which sometimes cause visible white spots in the eye.
Becky has been fighting EC since May 25. I am posting this in hopes that it might help other rabbits that are also suffering.
May 25: Last night this started about 7:30 and went to the ER. After 4 hours there they said ear infection. She has acted fine until tonight again. She’s on subq fluids, injected batryl, injected benidryl, and antibiotic eye drops. I added drammamine to help with the dizziness.
May 26: ok, checked in with the vet again and we decided panacur (20 mg/kg of fenbendazole) wouldn’t hurt anything but can help. Since all the kids came from rough starts and have never been wormed we are dosing everyone to cover the bases.
Becky isn’t twirling much this morning. She’s such a trooper and mixing the meds with baby food she will lick it off a spoon. She is eating, peeing, and pooping like a trooper. Since she’s more in control I let her out of the basket this morning to change the wet bedding. She went right to her litter box and seems much more comfortable going potty there. Since she was able to get in and out ok on her own I’m not going to put her back in the basket for now.
I am having flashbacks to Cinderella and I don’t think I’m the only one. When I put Becky in the laundry basket Houdini seemed upset and kept hopping back and forth watching her. Luckily she hasn’t needed the basket today.
I have spent most of the day in the bun room, never being gone for more than 30 minutes at a time. I gave it a really good clean so I wouldn’t be hovering but still close. I would lay next to her and read out loud on my breaks. I think it makes her more comfortable. Gary also stretched out next to her so she never feels alone.
May 27: I feel like the panecur is a miracle. She is almost completely back to normal! She’s able to control her movements and not circling. She came hopping right over for breakfast and chowed down as normal.
I have to be careful not to pick her up too much because that makes her dizzy, but it’s a relief to see her feeling so much better.
May 28: Well, it is two hops forward and one hop back. *sigh* Becky isn’t doing so well this morning. Her eyes are really darting again and her head is sideways again. Last night her head was back up right and I was so excited.
I’m going to continue her meds for two weeks minimum. Depending on how she’s doing it may get extended.
I so want to snuggle her but it makes her dizzy, so I sit next to her and we chat.
May 29: I am happy to report that Becky is doing really well this morning. She was able to sit up to clean her face properly with both paws! As soon as I put the pellets down for breakfast she came right over and dug in, granted oats is quite the attractant.
Gary is being a wonderful husbunny, he is laying right next to her and keeping her face clean. His hocks are doing much better so he doesn’t need to have socks on while in his normal space anymore because I have several blankets padding the floor. I do put his socks on when he runs around, but he is so sweet he hasn’t wanted to leave Becky to play.
The vet says it is impossible to tell if it is the baytril or panacur that’s working, but we are covering our bases and doing both for two weeks. I’m thrilled that her fever is gone so she doesn’t have to have the sub q fluids since she is drinking well on her own. At this point she doesn’t seem to get dizzy unless I pick her up, so I administer her meds from the ground. I also have been giving her fresh lavender to eat because it is soothing and I think she sleeps better after snacking on it. At least I have a good supply of fresh this time of year that is in perfect bloom.
I hate leaving her home while I’m at work today, but Joshua promised to call if she starts to act unwell. He also promised to talk to her and give her pets a couple of times during the day so she knows she wasn’t abandoned. What a brave little girl, I’m sure she will pull through now.
*hugs and nose bonks to all our friends*
May 30: Becky had a good night and was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning. As soon as I came in to say good morning she hopped right over to her breakfast dish and dug in with her normal gusto. I saw my first binky out of Sophie too! I guess she was extra excited for breakfast this morning heheheee
I really think it is EC, but I will finish the course of antibiotics just in case. I’m giving her the panacur daily for two weeks then we will see. She sucks it right down from the syringe because it’s mixed with yummy baby food and perfect food powder (it has lots of good things like wheat grass, probiotic, antioxidants etc. to stimulate her immune system). I normally put the perfect food powder on their breakfast, but adding an extra dose since she’s not feeling well is good too. She also chows down on the fresh lavender in the evenings. I have a lovely clump growing in my garden and it’s blooming now.
The boys are taking excellent care of her and makes me love them all the more. They are so devoted. I’m sure it is a comfort to her to have them snuggling when I can’t be home during the day.
It is such a relief to see her feeling so much better.
I went home at lunch and I wouldn’t believe that she is the same bun that was so sick less than a week ago. She hopped right up for her scratches like nothing was ever wrong. I will finish up the meds to make sure it is gone, but she is super.
I’m going to give her another week or so to make sure she’s all better than we can start dating again. I’m hoping to have all four of them living together by the end of the summer. Houdini and Gary have gotten along so well through all this since they were both helping Becky. Now if we can get Sophie and Becky to decide who the big boss is, that’s the last hold out.
May 31: *sigh* looks like I celebrated too soon. This morning her fever is back and she’s not as bad as she originally was, but still not good. Her breakfast consumption was lack luster, but when I put it in front of her face she did eat some. I gave her some metacam in case she was in pain because she looked so uncomfortable. I also gave her fluids to bring down her temperature. My poor baby. I can’t even get home at lunch today because of big meetings at work. Joshua promised to give her the dramamine later this morning and to keep an eye on her.
June 2: She’s doing better. When I give her the medicine it always gets her dizzy again for a little while, but it’s getting better each time. I have the gate open for Gary to run around and Becky just hopped out to see us in the livingroom! It’s the first time in over a week she has felt good enough to come out of her house.
She really likes nomming the lavender, luckily her appetite has been great the whole time.
June 7: Andre is doing his part by chasing Gary around and working out all his energy. Gary had a serious case of the zoomies tonight. A circle around their house, down the stairs, through the kitchen to our bedroom, lap around the room, back through the kitchen, up the stairs, around the living room, back to his house. All at top speeds over and over again for 45 minutes. They took turns with who was in the lead, so it was mutual participation. They both should sleep well tonight.
June 11: Two hops forward one hop back. She came out to the livingroom a couple of times over the weekend and is starting to fuss about the medicine. I take these as good signs. I make the pancur taste as good as possible, mixing it with baby food, but now she is still thumping after I dose her. I can’t pick her up or she gets dizzy again, but as long as she keeps all four feet on the ground she’s looking pretty good. She’s back to demanding oats to eat her pellets, but that is her normal so that’s good. She can be very stubborn and hold out all day if she doesn’t get her oats on top.
June 13: Well, with hindsight I think we lost Cinderella to EC. I had even asked the vet about it at the time, but the vet felt the symptoms were too severe to be EC. She was rolling and in the end she went into seizures. Even with medication she would only stop seizing for a few seconds at a time. After holding her all day and the medicine not working I ended up deciding to end her suffering, because I truly believe she was suffering.
I am happy to report though that Becky is doing much better. She was able to periscope last night for a cheerio! I gave her four cheerios just to see her able to balance herself
She’s starting to venture out to the living room and moving around more. She’s getting her happy personality back. I’m going to finish the panacur and then give the ivomec just to be sure all bases are covered. I’m going to dose everyone with the ivomec just as a preventative measure.
She still gets a little dizzy when picked up, but that is getting better and she recovers more quickly each day. Now it only takes about 5 minutes until she’s fine again.
I think the difference is that Becky has never given up on eating and drinking. She has maintained a sweet disposition and she still interacts with me and her husbunny. When I was cleaning the bird cages over the weekend a couple of weeks ago she hoped onto my foot and just sat with me, her little head swaying but clearly happy with the contact. I see improvement, with set backs but each one less, so I truly feel Becky will be able to recover. Cinderella didn’t want to eat and the last day was totally unresponsive, there just was no quality of life. I couldn’t let her suffer. It’s a difficult line to draw, but it would have been selfish for me to hold onto her longer. At least her husbunny was with her to the very end and she died peacefully in my arms.
June 22: So Becky has been on the panacur for 27 days, almost done with the course. She’s still tilting a little and dizzy when I pick her up. I am going to get some ivomec tomorrow at the feed store when I pick up hay and give that a try. *sigh* I feel so bad for her.
She’s eating great and will stretch out to relax. I hope she is not in pain since she’s not giving any indications that she is. I took a nap on the floor with her yesterday, the blankets covering the floor smelled like lavender since I have been giving it to her daily for three weeks. It was a great nap for us both!
June 29: She is doing really well. There’s no indication unless I pick her up. Unfortunately that still makes her so dizzy. I hope her ears heal over time. I think her career as a therapy rabbit may be over though, I don’t want to stress her out. Gary can still go and be a clown for everyone.
She’s still eating the lavender and eating great in general. She has started to run up to the food dish in the morning for her pellets again. It’s reassuring to see the old enthusiasm return. I’m going to give her the panacur for one more week just to make sure she is stable and we got everything.
July 7: Becky is still on the panacur because she still gets dizzy if I pick her up. I’m starting to wonder if her ears were permanently damaged. Hopefully things will get better with time.