The 2 most important facts about rabbit syphilis are:
Rabbit syphilis is a disease caused by the bacterium Treponema cuniculi. It can be transmitted sexually, but has also been seen in rabbits that were living singly, having had no contact with other rabbits, and in rabbits that were sharing space with unaffected rabbits. It is believed that the disease was transmitted to these rabbits at birth or via the mother's milk while nursing. In some rabbits the bacterium may remain dormant for long periods of time, even years, and the affected rabbit will show no clinical signs until a stressful event occurs, causing the infection to erupt.
Feb. 9, 2007 - Discovered what appeared to be an injury in the corner of Gozal’s eye, possibly from a bonding session. It resembled a crusty eye discharge.
The incidence of syphilis in house rabbits is not known, but it is likely more common than previously thought. It is, therefore, important to be aware of the clinical characteristics of the regular and atypical forms as well as of the easy availability of treatment.
Apr. 18, 2007 - Wound was crusted over and then suddenly a crater appeared. Gozal was getting an antibiotic eye ointment which had no effect on his condition.
Over the last years, an atypical form of treponematosis has been observed in rabbits, in which clinical signs are seen only on the face and not on the genitals/anus. The affected area will exhibit lesions that will develop into crusts and, if left untreated, will spread. The lesions may become raw, inflamed, or may bleed or exude a discharge.
May 10, 2007 - Around this time Gozal’s nose presented with crusts as well, though to a much lesser degree.
It is important to monitor the rabbit's eating. As the dying bacteria release toxins inside the rabbit's body, the appetite may be affected. Inappetence can last 2 - 3 days, but the rabbit usually begins eating again on its own. It is essential that the antibiotic is not stopped; the rabbit should be encouraged to eat, tempted with favorite foods, and given a lot of attention and love to motivate it to eat.
June 4, 2007 - Great improvement, after a vet friend (who had been following Gozal’s condition via emails) suggested syphilis. Gozal’s first penicilin shot was on June 1.
Gozal, September, 19, 2009 - Completely healed and 100% healthy!
Copyright 2010 Tal Saarony