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.: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.:235
It is a self-limiting disease; carriers may be asymptomatic until stress occurs.:235
Other symptoms include the following::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::235
- inflammation of the uterus (metritis)
- neonatal death
Bucks are often asymptotic carriers and may have small star-shaped stars on their scrotum.:222
A skin biopsy sample with silver staining can confirm a diagnosis of rabbit syphilis.:222
Rabbits with syphilis are effectively treated with injections of penicillin.: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.:236
Tetracyclines and chloramphenicol can also be effective.:223
- Medirabbit. Treponematosis - rabbit syphilis
- Charles River. (2009). Treponema paraluiscuniculi [PDF]
- The Merck Veterinary Manual, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases of Rabbits - search for "Treponematosis"
- Raising-Rabbits.com. Rabbit Syphilis
The following are some experiences with rabbit syphilis.
- Pipkin Rabbit Rescue. (2010). Rabbit syphilis - Dougal
- T Saarony. Case report: Atypical treponematosis - rabbit syphilis in a pet rabbit
Here are libraries on rabbit syphilis.
- RabbitsOnline.net. Vent Disease (Rabbit Syphilis)
- Quesenberry, K & Carpenter, J. (2012). Ferrets, rabbits, and rodents: Clinical medicine and surgery. (3rd ed.).