Rabbits are at risk from a number of rabbit specific diseases including myxomatosis and rabbit calicivirus, better known as VHD. There are vaccines available for these diseases from your vet.
Other diseases which affect rabbit health, such as E Cuniculi, a protozoal disease that affects the central nervous system, are currently subject to research. Intervet produce a products called “Panacur Rabbit”, a preventative treatment designed to be given for nine consecutive days every three to six months.
In commercial rabbitries, medication against coccidiosis is often added to the pellets. Medicated pellets can only be sold by companies that have a pharmaceutical license and are not available ‘over the counter’ in pet shops.
Diet related disease of rabbits
Most rabbit disease in pet rabbits that have been vaccinated tends to be diet related. Selective feeding, lack of forage and overfeeding being the main culprits. Obesity leads to sticky bottom and fly strike, calcium deficiency or inadequate calcium in relation to phosphorous leads to dental problems through osteoporosis of the jaw.
In obese rabbits with large dewlaps infections can occur in the moist folds which, if infected by Pseudomonas aeruginosa can sometimes turn an alarming shade of green. The dewlap in a non obese rabbit, if it is large, can make it difficult for the rabbit to groom itself and consume its own caecal pellets leading to ‘sticky bottom’ and the risk of fly strike. If problems occur, rabbits can have the rabbit equivalent of plastic surgery and have the dewlap reduced in size.
Other infections tend to be opportunist bacterial infections such as Staphylococcus aureaus, E Coli. Clostridium species or Pasteurella multocida. The bacteria are around in the background and infect animals that are stressed or already unwell. Examples of this are snuffles (low grade pasteurella), sore hocks and abscesses.
Rabbits are also susceptible to Coccidiosis (Eimeria sp), both the intestinal and liver varieties. Commercial rabbitries can buy pellets containing an anti-coccidiostat to protect against the intestinal varieties of this parasite but not the species that affects the liver. Most pet owners would never come across these medicated pellets but need to know that, should they do so, they are toxic to cavies or guinea pigs.
http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/index_en.htm General rabbit veterinary care information
http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Neurology/Neurology_main.htm Neurological information
http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Neurology/cuniculi/pyrimethamine.htm Pyrimethamine treatment in difficult cases of E Cuniculi