Infection rabbit bunny diagnose symptoms treat

Next-Gen Sequencing can help diagnose infections in rabbits!

Did you know that approximately 30%-90% of seemingly healthy rabbits may be asymptomatic carriers of Pasteurella multocida [1]? This bacterium causes pasteurellosis, which commonly impacts not only the rabbit’s respiratory system, but can also localize in eyes, ears, skin, reproductive organs, and more [1]. While the symptoms of pasteurellosis are broad and may appear benign, visiting a veterinarian is crucial in preventing the disease from becoming chronic and difficult to control.

Symptoms of Pasteurellosis in Rabbits

P. multocida is a Gram-negative, non-motile coccobacillus that rabbits often become infected with soon after birth [2]. This pathogen is highly contagious and can be transmitted through both direct contact and through the air [1]. Moreover, the strain of P. multocida has a major impact on its virulence. Serogroups A and D strains of P. multocida are classically considered the key causative agents of rabbit pasteurellosis manifestation, although other serogroups are currently under investigation to reassess their pathogenicity [3,4,5].

The good news is that if the strain of P. multocida is one of the less virulent ones and the rabbit has a strong immune system, there is a chance that the rabbit may recover without treatment! That being said, that rabbit will likely become an asymptomatic carrier of P. multocida, which can potentially become symptomatic if this opportunistic bacterium is able to overwhelm commensal bacteria and the rabbit’s immune system [2]. The likelihood of this occurring increases under periods of stress, and so it is important for pet parents to monitor and correctly manage their rabbit’s habitat and diet [1].

If a rabbit is infected with an aggressive serogroup of P. multocida and/or the bunny has a weakened immune system, pasteurellosis can be very severe and in extreme cases can cause death. It is recommended to visit an exotic pet specialist to help diagnose the cause of your rabbit’s symptoms, and use targeted antibiotics in order to avoid chronic infections. Delay in care can complicate your rabbit’s infection, so seeking medical attention at the first sign of symptoms is crucial.

While bunny pasteurellosis severity exists on a spectrum and can impact several systems within the body, the following symptoms indicate that your rabbit may be suffering and needs to visit a veterinarian:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Scalding of skin around eyes
  • Abscesses under the skin
  • Oscillations of the eye
  • Severe tilting of the head
  • Abnormal reproductive tract discharge

Rabbits cage bunnies infections symptoms causes treatments diagnosis

Reducing stress by maintaining good animal husbandry is key for preventing infections in rabbits.

Traditional Diagnosis of Pasteurellosis

The most common intervention for rabbit pasteurellosis is an antibiotic treatment plan, although treatment is notoriously difficult and often only results in remission. Additionally, with the significant increase in antibiotic-resistant strains of P. multocida, some treatments have become increasingly less effective [5]. Diagnosis is currently made through a combination of clinical signs, bacterial culture, and serotyping [2]. However, advancements in defining the rabbit microbiome, complicated by antibiotic resistance are making it necessary for veterinarians to consider contemporary measures to identify and quantify the bacteria, wherever the infection may be.

Particularly, treatment for subclinical pasteurellosis has become more clouded as recent research suggests that antimicrobial treatment may not have a lasting impact on patients [2]. Differentiating subclinical P. multocida infections from subclinical infections is consequently difficult but necessary if modern veterinary medicine aims to curb the over-prescription of antibiotics [6]. Although culture-based tests have historically been lauded as the standard to characterize the rabbit microbiome, scientific research has provided increasing evidence for the diagnostic benefits of Next-Gen Sequencing (NGS) technology. Conventional culture-based tests have significant limitations in sensitivity to various microorganisms, as many remain undetected by culture methods; P. multocida is no exception to this, and often produces “no growth” cultures.

New and Powerful Diagnostic Alternative

The MiDOG All-in-One microbiome test may provide the answer to the diagnostic conundrum that pasteurellosis poses on your rabbit. Utilizing next generation sequencing technology to detect and quantify all microbial DNA through untargeted and comprehensive sequencing and quantitative comparisons to reference databases, the MiDOG NGS technology provides a useful opportunity to shed light on the microbial makeup of your rabbit’s infection for clinical application. The MiDOG microbiome test is a microbial identification test grounded on scientific research that provides veterinarians DNA evidence for the guided treatment of rabbit infections, such as pasteurellosis.


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[1] Salem, H. (2022). Rabbit Pasteurellosis. Retrieved from

[2] Mayer, J. (2021). Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases of Rabbits – Exotic and Laboratory Animals – MSD Veterinary Manual. Retrieved from,Pasteurellosis,age%20until%20about%205%20months.

[3] Jaglic, Z., Jeklova, E., Christensen, H., Leva, L., Register, K., & Kummer, V. et al. (2011). Host response in rabbits to infection with Pasteurella multocida serogroup F strains originating from fowl cholera. Can J Vet Res., 75(3), 200-208. Retrieved from

[4] Frebourg, N., Berthelot, G., Hocq, R., Chibani, A., & Lemeland, J. (2002). Septicemia Due to <i>Pasteurella pneumotropica</i> : 16S rRNA Sequencing for Diagnosis Confirmation. Journal Of Clinical Microbiology, 40(2), 687-689. doi: 10.1128/jcm.40.2.687-689.2002

[5] Hu, J., Li, W., Huang, B., Zhao, Q., & Fan, X. (2021). The Profiles of Long Non-coding RNA and mRNA Transcriptome Reveals the Genes and Pathway Potentially Involved in Pasteurella multocida Infection of New Zealand Rabbits. Frontiers In Veterinary Science, 8. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.591273

[6] Palócz, O., Gál, J., Clayton, P. et al. Alternative treatment of serious and mild Pasteurella multocida infection in New Zealand White rabbits. BMC Vet Res 10, 276 (2014).

Categories: Next-Gen DNA Sequencing Technology, Rabbits, Skin Health

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Validated by Veterinarians

“Clients expect their veterinarians to stay up to date on all matters that affect the health and well being of their non-human family members. The current technique that we have used to determine the presence and antibiotic sensitivity of organisms causing disease in our pets is over a century old.

With the emergence of dangerous antibacterial resistance, it is critical that veterinarians are able to offer laser focused diagnostics and treatment. MiDog enables us to offer care that exceeds the typical standard of care.”

Bernadine Cruz, DVM, Laguna Hills Animal Hospital Laguna Woods, CA

“I love the absolute abundance and comparing the fungal with bacterial infection. I do not worry as much about getting a false negative urinary infection reading as I do with traditional urine cultures. Several times the same urine would culture negative but MiDOG would detect pathogens.”

Michael Morgan, DVMQuail Animal Hospital, Tustin, CA

“The MiDOG All-in-One Test is amazing, I would use it instead of culture and sensitivity.  Such rapid and detailed results, I will reach for MiDOG before culture next time!

Thank you very much MiDOG, for sharing the opportunity to try your technology.”

Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM, President of Forensic Veterinary Investigations, LLC – Boston, MA

The MiDOG All-in-One Microbial Test is our new gold standard of pathogen identification. The results are so accurate and valuable – especially with assessing both bacterial and fungal infections with the same sample.

Thank you MiDOG!”

Kathy Wentworth, DVM, Diplomate ABVP Canine and Feline Practice – PetPoint Medical Center, Irvine, CA

“The MiDOG staff was extremely helpful and supportive.”

Cathy Curtis, DVM – London, UK

“I have had great results using the MiDOG® Test. Compared to traditional culture tests, I am better able to target the treatment for dogs because the MiDOG® Test is so sensitive that it identifies all pathogens including bacteria and fungi, as well as antibiotic sensitivity.

The cost and turnaround time are about the same as a culture test, but I get much more data. The test has great performance and I believe the NGS technology will be a game changer for veterinarians treating dogs with lesions or other infections.”

Michael Kavanagh, DVM, Practice owner – Saddleback Animal Hospital, Tustin, CA

“It’s helpful to have an NGS spectrum because it gives you a broader insight of what’s happening and what might be going on.”

Richard Harvey BVSc DVD DipECVD PhD FRSB FRCVS – European Specialist in Veterinary Dermatology – Head of Dermatology, Willows Veterinary Centre & Referral Service – Solihull, England UK

“I have been using MiDog for over 4 years now and exclusively as my test of choice for all cultures for 3 years.  It is so great to submit a culture and feel confident there will be a result when it comes back, especially for urine cultures.  The reports were intimidating at first because they contain so much information.  After the first few, I am now quickly able to glance over it and pick out the highlights.  I can then come back later and pour over all the details.  I have been extremely pleased with my patients’ results using the test as well.  I don’t envision ever going back to traditional culture and susceptibilities again.”

Brian M. Urmson, DVM, Columbiana Veterinary Associates

“As an exotic veterinarian, there are numerous tests we have to consider to check specific bacterial and fungal organisms based on the species. MiDOG eliminates the need for many of these separate samples and provides definitive results quickly to help us treat our patients more efficiently and effectively. The lab is wonderful to work with and has never rejected our samples- they even processed a lizard toe we amputated and determined the cause of skin infection.”

Dr. Melissa Giese, Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital

“MiDOG’s diagnostic approach offers the unique ability to identify pathogens that evade traditional culture and sensitivity testing. I have found that adding a molecular based testing approach in the form of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) from MiDOG to my routine diagnostic cultures can be extremely helpful in the identification and diagnosis of uncommon pathogens in veterinary medicine.”

Dr. Wayne Rosenkrantz, Animal Dermatology Clinic – Tustin

“She [Dr. Krumbeck] really did a great job of making complicated concepts accessible and demonstrating the value of your services. I’m really looking forward to working with MiDOG on my research project!”

Dr. Yaicha Peters, Animal Dermatology Clinic – San Diego

“As a proud collaborator with MiDOG, I deeply appreciate their dedication to fostering partnerships between industry and veterinary experts. Their commitment to enhancing diagnostic quality for veterinarians is commendable. In my experience, their support has been invaluable, earning them a ‘Double A+, Triple Star’ rating. Their assistance has been faultless, contributing significantly to the success of my projects and studies. I eagerly anticipate our continued collaboration.”

Dr. Richard Harvey, BVSc DVD DipECVD PhD FRSB FRCVS; European Specialist in Veterinary Dermatology

“We’re seeing that, if we prescribe too many antibiotics or they’re taken too frequently, animals are developing inappropriate or pathogenic strains of bacteria. We’re also seeing that our antibiotics are just not working against them anymore… It’s a good example of why we need better diagnostic testing, like MiDOG, so that we’re selecting the correct antibiotic every time our patients have an infection.”

Dr. Alissa Rexo, DVM, CVA, DACVD, Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Dermatology

“The NGS technique as offered by MiDOG is wonderful because pathogens like Melissococcus plutonius, for example, are difficult to grow and keep alive in the laboratory. A standard laboratory cannot truly examine or even properly diagnose this pathogen in bee hives at this time. But with NGS, we can reliably diagnose it.”

Dr. Joerg Mayer, Entomologist and Microbiologist at the University of Georgia

“For me, as a clinician and as a researcher, I see the immense value in the product [the All-in-One Test]. I have had great success using MiDOG clinically, including identifying Mycoplasma in a 24 year old pigeon, a Nannizziopsis spp in a ball python from a large pet distributor, Mycoplasma and Fusobacterium necrophorum co-infection in a peacock, and to identify an abnormal gut GI in a technician’s dog that tested negative for everything else (but we were able to establish what was abnormal, and work toward fixing it).”

Dr. Jeremy Rayl – Veterinarian, Block House Creek Animal Hospital, Cedar Park, Texas