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Friday, August 11 • 3:50pm - 4:40pm
Floppy rabbit syndrome: A case series

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 Floppy rabbit syndrome is a reported worldwide phenomenon that presents as an acute onset generalised muscle weakness.  Affected rabbits are unable to move, but can eat if food is placed within reach. Affected rabbits can die but many recover without incident. The aetiology of this syndrome is unknown, and in the past diverse causes such as hypokalaemia, hypoglycaemia and heart disease have all been implicated. There is no known current treatment that affects outcome.
 Although individual cases have been reported, no systematic investigation of the syndrome has been undertaken. Twelve cases of presumed “floppy rabbit” that presented to the Rabbit Doctors @ CARE were used in this study.  Age, sex, and breed and were noted for each rabbit. Blood samples were taken where possible to measure PCV/TP, blood glucose, and electrolytes on admission.  Sequential neurological exams were performed on each rabbit.  Heart rate, temperature and respiratory rate and effort were monitored, and where possible ETCO2 was serially recorded.  Rabbits in the study were followed until they either died, were euthanased or recovered completely. 
Preliminary results show that floppy rabbit syndrome primarily affects young animals (under 1yo at first presentation), there is no known sex or breed predilection and there was no correlation between hypokalaemia, hypoglycaemia or other electrolyte disorders in affected rabbits.  Rabbits that died, all did so of acute respiratory failure leading to hypercapnia.
From this initial study results also suggest that floppy rabbit syndrome may be a lower motor neurone disorder similar to that of polyradiculoneuritis in dogs/ Guillam Barre syndrome in people.  Further investigations including histopathology of post mortem samples and EMG studies of affected rabbits are currently being carried out.

avatar for Gerry Skinner

Gerry Skinner

Director, The Rabbit Drs
Gerry Skinner qualified from Bristol in 2003 after switching careers from archaeology, having obtained a PhD in palaeopathology in 1997. During her exotics training in the UK she emigrated to Australia and kept emergency and critical care as her main clinical interest, gaining memberships... Read More →

Friday August 11, 2017 3:50pm - 4:40pm AEST
Room 9