Snuffle (Pasteurellosis) is a local infection of the nostril of rabbits. It is characterized by a watery or mucoid discharge from the nostril of the rabbits. Snuffles is a term used to describe the symptoms of runny eyes, runny nose and sneezing in rabbits.
The cause of these symptoms is often a chronic bacterial infection in the tear ducts and nasal sinuses. The bacteria involved are usually Pasteurella spp or Staphylococcus spp.
Rabbits with snuffles have symptoms that look like a cold in humans. They will have mucus coming from the nostrils. They may also have runny eyes. There will be breathing problems, possibly some wheezing, coughing and sneezing, and your rabbit will feel poorly. Appetite will be reduced because it’s hard to breath and swallow with a blocked nose.
Many rabbits with snuffles have dirty front paws because they have wiped their noses and eyes.
Rabbits with dental disease are prone to developing snuffles. This is because the tooth roots pass very closely to the tear duct as it drains from the corner of the eye to the nose. When the teeth become overgrown and/or maloccluded (do not meet), the tooth roots push upwards and can obstruct the tear duct. This blockage prevents normal drainage of tears through the duct and allows the bacteria to grow.
It has been suggested that rabbits kept in poorly ventilated hutches may also be prone to developing snuffles. The build-up of fumes from urine or from certain types of wood shavings, e.g. cedar, may cause irritation to the eyes, and possibly trigger snuffles.
The first sign of a problem is usually runny eyes with wet, tear-stained fur on the cheeks. The discharge from the eyes is initially clear (just like normal tears). If left untreated, the discharge can become purulent (white-yellow coloured) and the fur around the eyes can fall out.
As the condition progresses, your rabbit will develop a discharge from its nose which it will wipe away with its front paws. You may spot the dried discharge on your rabbit’s front paws.
In severe cases, snuffles can result in pneumonia which requires very intensive treatment and unfortunately is often fatal.
Causes of Snuffle
1. Build up of ammonia fumes in buildings.
2. Pasteurella spp or Staphylococcus spp.
3. Excessive dust particular of feed, hay or grasses.
1. Lack of appetite in does.
3. Milk production decline.
4. Runny nose
1. Isolation of sick rabbits.
2. Culling of sick frequently catching cold.
3. Sound feeding program.
4. Good ventilation to get rid of gas emanating.
5. Avoid damp cages and damp straw.
6. Avoid over crowding.
Treatment of Snuffles (Pasteurellosis in Rabbits)
Treatment will begin with antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection. These medications can be administered for up to a few months to fully treat the infection. Certain antibiotics can be dangerous for rabbits, so it will be necessary to find a veterinarian that is well versed in the antibiotics that are safe for rabbits.
To treat clogged tear ducts, your veterinarian may flush his tear ducts in the office and teach you how to do it at home. If your rabbit is experiencing neurological symptoms, those will be treated to keep him comfortable also. If there are any abscesses found because of the infection, those may have to be surgically removed as well.
Snuffles is a bacterial infection in rabbits. It can be caused by more than one sort of bacteria. The most common is Pasteurella multocida but other common culprits are Bordatella (kennel cough) and Pseudomonas.
Any other rabbits that have been in contact with your infected rabbit will be in danger of becoming ill. However, don’t separate bonded pairs or groups as this will stress them all and that can seriously weaken their immune system, making any infection that much worse. You must do all you can to stop the infection from spreading by keeping everything as clean as possible and preferably feeding the ill rabbit its pellets and water separately from any bonded friends.
Other pets may be infected, depending on what the cause is, so again, keeping everything scrupulously clean is essential, including washing your own hands immediately after handling your ill rabbit, and if appropriate, changing clothes and shoes as well.
Also iIf the cause is Pasteurella or Pseudomonas, there is a very small risk to human health. You need to be careful of your own and your family’s health. However, with proper cleaning and disinfecting, unless somebody has immune system problems, the risk should is very low.
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