Rabbit syphilis

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Rabbit syphilis, also known as treponematosis, vent disease, or venereal spirochetosis, is caused by the bacterium Treponema cuniculi. This is not a zoonotic disease and can be passed by direct and sexual (venereal) contact.[1]:222

Transmission is through direct contact with infected skin or from infected dam to kits at birth. Incubation periods are long, lasting up to 10 to 16 weeks.[1]:235


It is a self-limiting disease; carriers may be asymptomatic until stress occurs.[1]:235

Other symptoms include the following:[1]:222

  • lesions on the skin of the perineum and genitilia.
  • facial lesions around the chin, lips, nostrils, and eyelids.
  • inguinal lymph nodes may be enlarged.

Affected female rabbits can also have the following symptoms:[1]:235

  • inflammation of the uterus (metritis)
  • abortion
  • neonatal death

Bucks are often asymptotic carriers and may have small star-shaped stars on their scrotum.[1]:222


A skin biopsy sample with silver staining can confirm a diagnosis of rabbit syphilis.[1]:222


Rabbits with syphilis are effectively treated with injections of penicillin.[1]:223 Penicillin should never be given to rabbits orally. Remove nursing kits from dams during treatment to decrease the risk of their developing penicillin-associated enterotoxemia.[1]:236

Tetracyclines and chloramphenicol can also be effective.[1]:223

Further reading

The following are some experiences with rabbit syphilis.

Here are libraries on rabbit syphilis.