Epizootic Rabbit Enteropathy (ERE)

Epizootic Rabbit Enteropathy
Written by Editorial

Unlike other types of enteritis, the epizootic rabbit enteropathy is a highly contagious infection. What symptoms does this condition have and how can it be treated?

The epizootic rabbit enteropathy is a very contagious disease with high mortality rates and symptoms including watery diarrhea, rumbling nose, mucous excreting, reduced food intake and distention of the abdomen. Occasionally, your furry friend may suffer from cecal impaction.

It first emerged in France in the late 1996 and early 1997, and it was named epizootic since it affected many bunnies in a rabbitry.

Epizootic Rabbit Enteropathy
Epizootic Rabbit Enteropathy

This condition mimics enterotoxemia and mucoid enteritis, but it is contagious, and it commonly affects young fattening rabbits aged between 6-14 weeks with a mortality rate of between 30-80%. Fecal isolation shows high counts of Clostridium perfringens and the non-enteropathogenic Escherichia coli [1]. Rotavirus has also been noted [2]


Symptoms will begin to show after 4-6 days. Common signs your pet may have include

  • Sudden abdominal distention with the stomach having mainly gas and liquids while intestines will have primarily liquid but some gas too. The colon will have mostly mucus
  • Diarrhea and excretion of mucus
  • Rambling noise after a day since the onset of diarrhea.
  • Palpation may indicate a cecal impaction. Sometimes, the cecum may have fluids
  • Presence of mucoid droppings inside the cage

Necropsy reveals that impaction occurs 20-30% of the time.

Treatment and prevention

Being a contagious disease, it is advisable you immediately talk to your vet to help stop it from spreading. Quarantining affected ones is recommended.

The use of Bacitracin antibiotic controls acute phase but not the symptoms of a very acute phase. [3]. Your vet may administer other antibiotics including Panacur, neomycin sulfate, and metronidazole.

To help prevent ERE, disinfect your hutches with chlorhexidine solution like Duvert 2% Chlorhexidine solution once a week. It is also recommended that you give your rabbit hay. Hay will not cure the disease, but help improve gut motility and health. This will ensure the disease works itself out faster.

Avoid weight gain and obesity by carefully selecting the diet you give your pets. Fattening rabbits are often affected.

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