Parvo virus symptoms in rabbits are largely intestinal, although the virus shows in many areas of the body including the blood, organs, intestines and feces. Detection is based somewhat on symptoms, but a vet's diagnosis is key, as treatment has several components.
What Is Parvo Virus?
Parvo, also known as parvovirus, is a viral infection that can affect any mammal, including rabbits. Infection spreads through oral-fecal contamination and is generally more likely found in commercial rabbitries, rabbit farms or other conditions where rabbits endure crowded housing conditions. Infections in commercial rabbitries have been found in Europe, Japan and the United States. Parvo virus is specific to each individual species, so a rabbit can't transmit it to another species, and vice versa.
In laboratory studies, rabbits infected with the parvo virus began to show signs or bodily reactions anywhere from three to 13 days after exposure, at which point the virus was detected in the feces. It was also found in the blood, liver, pancreas, spleen, intestines, appendix and some lymph nodes 10 to 14 days after exposure. Antobodies -- blood proteins produced in response to the virus -- were found anywhere between eight and 30 days after infection.
Intestinal Issues, Fatigue
Young rabbits four to 10 weeks old sometimes have the most pronounced symptoms, thoughsymptoms can present in rabbits of any age. Diarrhea is one of the most common parvo symptoms, and other signs include fatigue, listlessness and reluctance to eat. The intestines may also become inflamed, leading to further symptoms. Parvo can affect the heart in some species, although it's not clear if rabbits are vulnerable. To address rabbits' symptoms, electrolyte replacement, antibiotics and probiotics are recommended.
Parvo can cause complications in rabbits with compromised immune systems. It can lead to a form of anemia that causes the body to use red blood cells more quickly than bone marrow can replace them. If this happens, red cell production may cease altogether, causing what's known as an anemia crisis. Parvo can also cause anemia in pregnant rabbits, and can cause stillbirths. Blood transfusions are sometimes given to humans in this situation.
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Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.