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Home Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Bordatella/Pasturella

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    • Bunny Hugger
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      Hello everybun! It’s been a loooong time since I’ve posted but that’s because Jax is firmly part of our family now (over 3 years!) and totally rules our house. Lately we’ve been considering finding a bunny friend for him. I know that bonding is a big topic but that’s not what this post is about. We’ve already found a rescue that requires mandatory “dates” with any current buns to make sure they at least don’t hate each other and they help out with bonding as well. We looked through the buns they currently have available for adoption and one really jumped out at us (due to age, sex, and personality traits). I’ve been in contact with the rescue and they informed us that she has a lifelong respiratory condition – she has tested positive for Bordatella, with a negative for Pasturella, however there could be the slight possibility she has Pasturell as well (erring on the side of caution). She was treated with a round of broad spectrum antibiotics and recovered very well and only requires a periodic immune booster to keep her healthy (and stress free environment). If we were just adopting her we wouldn’t have any hesitation; however, we currently have a very healthy 4 year old bun who we wanted to try to bond – they would be sharing the living space (our whole house) as well as litterbox, food, water, etc. and we are just concerned about risk of him becoming infected by her condition. Does anyone have any advice on what to do? We really want to rescue another bunny and find a friend for Jax but we really don’t want to do anything that might put his health at risk! 


    • LBJ10
      Moderator
      14030 posts Send Private Message

      This is a good question. I suppose there is a small risk… but most rabbits infected with bordetella exhibit no symptoms. The same can be said for pasteurella. Many rabbits have these types of bacteria in their respiratory tract and never become ill. When there are symptoms, it is usually pasteurella and not bordetella… although the two bacteria are often associated with each other. If bordetella is what is causing the problems in this rabbit, then there’s a very good chance that Jax would not be affected. It all depends on his immune system and whether or not he was already exposed (a lot of rabbits get it from their mothers or other rabbits when housed in large rabbit breeding facilities).

      I believe Dface adopted a pasteurella bunny recently: https://binkybunny.com/FORUM/tabid/54/aft/170894/Default.aspx


    • Dface
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      Most rabbits carry pasturella (and bordetella) which is a reason not to house them with guinea pigs as they are very susceptible to bordetella, along with why dogs in rabbit rich areas need kennel cough shots(it also affects cats).

      Bordetella is usually not the active infection, it’s often called a copathogen that predisposes the rabbit to pasturalla, usually its pasturella thats causing all the discharge and goo. But they normally live hand in hand. (thats not to say bordetella isn’t the active infection in this rabbits case)

      My situation is a bit complicated, my girl lived with a sick bun, so she’s a carrier, and her new mate has therefore also been exposed to the disease.

      These are opportunistic bacteria, which flare up in times of low health/stress. Even rabbits who are treated by antibiotics and who appear healthy will relapse, as often times broad spec antibiotics kill off most of it, but pasturella forms lesions that it can hide in, and then re-colonize unchecked afterwards, meaning that even being on antibiotics(for any reason) is a risk for these rabbits.

      The end result of pasturalla is your bunny will die younger.
      High recurrence will lead to a faster death.

      There is not a huge amount known in regards to mixing symptomatic and healthy /carrier bunnies. Most ill rabbits are culled or euthanized in industrial settings, and nobody wants to advise it in domestic settings where your pet is possibly at risk.

      Watching for any signs of infection is very important, but generally if your rabbit gets infected at all he will also be a sick bunny, who will need constant care.

      In terms of logistics of a pasturella/bordetella bunny they are a lot more work when sick. The rest of the time they are just happy to be loved like all rabbits.
      Like I said above, a routine course of antibiotics is a serious consideration.
      Your pet is likely to die younger, and it is very heartbreaking.
      You’ll need to commit to using a nebulizer on the rabbit in order to get the most effective medicines in, and collaborate with vets to encourage them to help you at this step. My first boy actually required almost daily treatments even when he wasn’t sick. Thankfully he loved his nebulizer.
      If /when infection happens you need to spend a lot of time helping the rabbit to clean:wiping its nose, washing face and paws, keeping eyes clean etc, and getting antibiotics in and being proactive about changing from broad spec to specific before it gets worse(for these buns baytril is not hugely effective and eventually is not at all useful)
      Litter needs to be kept clean and ventilation is really important
      Probiotics are really important, for all the rabbits living with a chronic bun all the time.
      Medication/illness can change the rabbits scent to its partner, so even bonded rabbits may have to be seperated.
      Vet fees add up very quickly.

      Sorry for the essay- just trying to give you some information.
      I haven’t written this to try and sway you either way. I just feel like its inpirtant to be informed before you make a decision (especially if its to proceed and then to feel totally overwhelmed)
      Rabbits with chronic illness can go on to lead perfect and wonderful little lives, and they need love and good homes even more than the healthy buns, but taking in one is a tough job, that is heartbreaking and difficult, and it is a risk, even if your bun is already a carrier, as there isn’t enough information out there to be properly sure.

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