Uveitis – Rabbit


Uveitis in rabbits is thought to be due most commonly to Pasteurella multocida infection and haematogenous spread.

Uveitis can also be secondary to severe keratitis or caused by trauma or penetrating foreign bodies.

Secondary uveitis and bacterial infection also occur in association with Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection. The protozoan is thought to enter the lens while it is developing in utero and eventually leads to capsular rupture. Release of lens material into the anterior chamber leads to a phacoclastic uveitis.

Clinical Signs

Characteristic signs are flare or frank hypopyon, synechiae and possibly also secondary cataract formation.

Other cases show large iridal abscesses and panophthalmitis.

More commonly, uveitis presents as a solitary white mass with or without other more overt signs of intraocular inflammation.


Clinical signs are usually suggestive of uveitis.

If Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection is suspected, either single or paired serology can be used to confirm exposure to the protozoa. Confirmation of the diagnosis can only be made by histological examination of the lens and surrounding structures.


Treatment of uveitis depends on the severity of signs and response to therapy. Most cases of phacoclastic uveitis due to E. cuniculi will respond to medical treatment and time.

Occasionally, enucleation is necessary. However some cases settle down without treatment.

Treatment should include systemic antibiosis (oxytetracycline) and topical preparations containing antibiotics and a mydriatic to reduce intraocular pain.

Treatment of the rabbits with fenbendazole is indicated to kill E. cuniculi but it will not treat the accompanying inflammatory response. Lens removal by phacoemulsification has been suggested as another possible treatment.

Uveitis – Rabbit Learning Resources
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Encephalitozoon cuniculi-associated phacoclastic uveitis in the rabbit: a review. Donnelly, T. M.; Veterinary Learning Systems, Yardley, USA, Journal of Exotic Mammal Medicine and Surgery, 2003, 1, 1, pp 1-3, 18 ref - Full Text Article


Harcourt-Brown, F (2002) Textbook of Rabbit Medicine, Elsevier Health Sciences

Flecknell, P. (2000) BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Medicine and Surgery, BSAVA

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