General information

Rabbit syphilis (Spirochaetosis cuniculi) is caused by the highly contagious bacterium Treponema paraluiscuniculi. Only rabbits and hares are susceptible, human infections are not possible. Transmission occurs directly, usually during mating. However, the animals can also become infected through other mucosal contacts as well as bedding and feed. Rabbit syphilis typically occurs as a chronic disease, but latent infections are possible, too. The incubation period is weeks to months. First clinical symptoms can be seen as oedematous swellings and formation of nodules on the external genital organs. In the further course of the disease, these nodules erode into ulcers and become purulent and encrusted. By licking the affected anogenital region, other skin areas, such as lips, eyelids or the edge of the ears often become infected as well.