GREENVILLE – The Miami County Fair Board closed the rabbit barn early this year due to a confirmed outbreak of coccidiosis, but whether or not this would affect the Darke County Fair rabbit barn was not a major concern.
Two rabbits died in Miami County while the rest were treated with a medication that acts as both a preventative and a cure. Fortunately, the 4-Hers were able to continue their shows by using stuffed rabbits in the place of their animals.
“I advise all of our 4-Hers to treat with the proper medication as a preventative every year before and/or during the fair,” said Pat Carrol, 4-H advisor to the Show Hoppers and longtime American Rabbit Breeders Association member. “It’s good to treat anytime there are large gatherings of rabbits where they are exposed to a different environment. Meat pens and fryers are more vulnerable to the disease as they are young weanling rabbits. Hot or humid conditions and major weather changes can also be a factor due to the stress it can cause in rabbits. We are not concerned about cocci here because we treat our rabbits as a precaution. We always keep a close eye on our animals for any kind of illness.”
The 4-H advisors and the Junior Fair are watching closely and continuing the preventative medication. They have educated all of their 4-H rabbit raisers on what they can do in the future to prevent this and other illnesses that their rabbits may be exposed to, as well as how to treat them.
Coccidiosis is a disease that can affect the intestinal tract or liver. It is caused by a protozoan parasite. Cocci poses no threat to people but can be spread to some other animals. It is transmitted by the animals’ fecal matter.
Symptoms can vary, and rabbits can show few symptoms depending on the type of infection and how long they have been infected. They begin losing weight as their appetite diminishes. Other symptoms include abdominal pain that’s accompanied by swelling in their bellies. Infected animals become dehydrated and weak quickly.
Cocci can be fatal in rabbits. It can be treated when caught early enough. Prevention is best with this disease due to the symptoms being hard to detect in time.