Merck Manual

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Tuberculosis in Rabbits

By

Nuno Santos

, PhD, CIBIO-InBIO, University of Porto

Reviewed/Revised Mar 2023 | Modified Jun 2023

Naturally occurring tuberculosis in rabbits is an uncommon finding; most cases are due to Mycobacterium bovis, M caprae, or M avium. Rabbits are relatively resistant to M tuberculosis.

Rabbits apparently become infected when exposed to other tuberculous animals. M avium has been reported in rabbits that are housed in close contact with domestic or infected exotic birds. Rabbits infected with M avium complex may develop miliary lesions involving the lung, liver, kidney, and joints. Lesions are characterized by central necrosis and scarce mineralization. The only symptoms may be cachexia and sudden death. Tuberculin skin tests may be conducted on the skin of the abdomen.

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