Colibacillosis - Rabbit

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It can be encountered in pet rabbits of all ages, especially if they have been receiving doses of antibiotics that include gram-positive organisms in their spectrum of activity (Morisse 1978). This can be a particular problem if animals from different sources are mixed together on acquisition, especially in conditions of indifferent hygiene. The quality of the diet (especially the protein/cellulose ratio) and of the drinking water is also of aetiological importance. The levels of E. coli in the intestinal lumen of a rabbit rises directly in proportion to infestation with Eimeria species (coccidians).

Clinical Signs

  • profuse diarrhoea
  • fur-chewing
  • anorexia


Treatment is usually unrewarding.

  • Oral administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics with known activity against gram-negative organisms, including E. coli.
  • Antispasmolytic agents such as hysocine (Buscopan Compositum; Boehringer Ingelheim 1 mg per kilogram I/M or S/C once only or daily until the desired results are obtained)
  • Fluids. Okerman (1994 p 37) warns that finding E. coli in large numbers merely reflects the ability of the organism to reproduce post-mortem and does not necessarily prove the diagnosis.


  • Okerman, L. (1994) Diseases of Domestic Rabbits. Blackwell Scientific Publications ISBN 0-632-03804 -7. 2nd Edition

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