Sudden deaths in rabbit breeding colony attributed to Clostridium septicum
Written by Dr. Barbara Lewis, Veterinary Pathologist
With over 800,000 tests run annually, TVMDL encounters many challenging cases. Our case study series will highlight these interesting cases to increase awareness among veterinary and diagnostic communities.
A rabbit breeding colony experienced multiple sudden deaths in a barn that typically had few death losses. The rabbits were noted grossly to have hemorrhage in the cecum and colon. Tissues from a 20-month-old female Flemish Giant rabbit were submitted for histopathology and bacterial culture. Histologically the rabbit had a marked, diffuse necrotizing and hemorrhagic typhiltis with intralesional Gram positive bacilli, mild heterophilic colitis and focal acute hepatic necrosis. Clostridium septicum was cultured from swabs of the cecum and colon.
Enteritis complex with signs ranging from soft stool and diarrhea to enterotoxemia, sepsis and death is one of the most common diseases in rabbits. The disease is typically multifactorial involving pathogenic bacteria and intrinsic and extrinsic factors that allow them to proliferate. Clostridium spiroforme, enteropathogenic E. coli, Lawsonia intracellularis, Clostridium piliforme, Salomnella and Pseudomonassp. are most often implicated.
Clostridium septicum is the common cause of malignant edema (gas gangrene) of animals and the cause of braxy (necrotizing abomasitis) in sheep in Britain. It is a ubiquitous soil-borne organism and a common inhabitant of the animal environment and digestive tract of large animals. A single case of necrotizing gastritis due to Cl. septicum in a rabbit was reported in 2014 from a research colony in California. It appears that Cl. septicum is an uncommon, but possible, gastrointestinal pathogen of rabbits.
To learn more about this case, contact Dr. Barbara Lewis, Veterinary Pathologist, at the College Station lab. For more information about TVMDL, call 1.888.646.5623 or visit tvmdl.tamu.edu.
JP Garcia, J Moore, P Loukopoulos, SS Diab, FA Uzal. Necrotizing gastritis associated with Clostridium septicum in a rabbit. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, Vol. 26(5) 669–673, 2014
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