- Seizures are an uncommon presentation in rabbits .
- Cause : a seizure, fit or convulsion is a manifestation of abnormal neuronal hyperactivity.
- Seizures may occur due to a primary intracranial lesion or secondary to aberrations elsewhere in the body.
- They are most often caused by infectious agents, toxins or metabolic disorders.
- Signs : the clinical appearance is variable, but typically paroxysmal uncontrolled tonic-clonic contractions of the voluntary muscles are observed.
- Diagnosis : signs, history, physical and neurological examination, CBC, urinalysis, biochemistry, radiography, CT, MRI, CSF analysis, EEG.
- Treatment : diazepam/midazolam or phenobarbital to control seizures. Propofol should be used to anesthetize animal if diazepam/midazolam or phenobarbital fail to control seizures.
- Prognosis : variable to poor.
- Rabbits may present during a seizure.
- More commonly, the animal is examined after having had one or more seizures from which it has partially or wholly recovered.
- Seizures may be generalized (loss of consciousness with bilaterally, symmetrical motor signs involving the whole body) or, less frequently, partial (focal motor activity without loss of consciousness).
- There may be no clinical signs apparent at the time of presentation.
- Seizures may occur in the terminal stages of disease, immediately prior to death.
- Owners often describe a seizure as sudden collapse or an episode of generalized weakness.
- Accompanying presenting signs vary depending on the underlying cause.
- Seizures, by definition, are acute in onset.
- Status epilepticus:
- Describes rapidly recurring seizures with incomplete recovery between episodes.
- Is a serious emergency that can result in transient brain hypoxia, permanent brain damage or death of the patient.
- May be associated with toxicities, metabolic abnormalities or progressive brain disease.
- Idiopathic epilepsy has only been reported in Beveren White and Vienna White rabbits.
Public health considerations
- A number of zoonotic diseases are associated with seizures in rabbits.
- The most common is Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection , which can potentially pose a risk to immunocompromised people.
- In areas where rabies is endemic, this serious zoonosis should remain a differential diagnosis until proven otherwise.
- Moderate to expensive.
- If the cause of a seizure is readily identified and treatment uncomplicated, the costs may be minimal.
- A complete evaluation for most seizuring patients involves extensive (and expensive) diagnostic tests.
- Emergency fees and hospitalization costs may be considerable.