Infection of the Brain Average Cost

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What is Infection of the Brain?

Infections of the brain are often accompanied by encephalitis, or an inflammation of the brain. A wide variety of symptoms can be seen between these two conditions, and it is important to take your rabbit in for an exam if they are present. While some cases can be diagnosed and treated immediately, there are other more severe conditions that will require extensive testing and care. It is important to note any and all changes in your rabbit, as these can often help narrow down the underlying cause.

The brain of rabbits can become infected due to many reasons, and are most commonly from a bacterial, parasitic, viral or fungal infection. Any infection in the brain can cause serious motor function problems, progressing to seizures, comas, and even death.

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Symptoms of Infection of the Brain in Rabbits

Symptoms of an infection can include:

  • Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain
  • Meningitis, or inflammation of the meninges
  • Meningoencephalitis, when encephalitis and meningitis occur simultaneously 
  • Brain abscess
  • Pain

Secondary symptoms concurrent with encephalitis, meningitis, or meningoencephalitis can include:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Loss of balance
  • Head tilt or wry neck, called torticollis
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Brain abscess
  • Progressive dementia
  • Paralysis
  • Loss of muscle movements
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Increased state of agitation
  • Coma 
  • Weakness
  • Circling
  • Inflammation of the iris in eyes, or phacoclastic uveitis
  • Eye twitching
  • Sight problems
  • Cataracts
  • Eye pain
  • Blindness
  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Depression
  • Pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden death


  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Parasitic infections 
  • Fungal infections

Causes of Infection of the Brain in Rabbits

The causes of a brain infection can vary, and include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Parasitic infections and migrations, such as roundworm and encephalitozoon cuniculi
  • Fungal infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Ear infections
  • Trauma to the ear
  • Chemical agents
  • Vertebrae infections
  • Trauma to the head or spine
  • Wounds
  • Cancer

Diagnosis of Infection of the Brain in Rabbits

It is often difficult to diagnose the reason for an infection of the brain, as the causes are numerous. A thorough physical examination is generally undergone to determine the cause and extent of the inflammation, and all known symptoms are taken into account. Testing can include blood cell counts, blood and serum tests, bacterial cultures, x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, spinal fluid analysis, or biopsy of any affected tissues. 

Each condition may require specialized testing to narrow down the cause, such as localized X-rays, and relevant tissue samples. To diagnose an eye or ear infection, further physical examinations are undertaken, along with a possible endoscopy.

Parasitic infections can be hard to diagnose. Encephalitozoon cuniculi can only be diagnosed by studying brain tissue samples, which is very dangerous for the rabbit. A diagnosis can be made by ruling out other causes and looking for other signs of the infection. A diagnosis of a roundworm infection, generally the raccoon roundworm baylisascaris procyonis, can be difficult because symptoms can be similar to other central nervous system conditions. If your rabbit has had exposure to raccoon infested areas, then this cause will more likely be pursued. No serum test can detect this, and a spinal tap may not be definitive. 

In the case of a possible tumor, growth or abscess, surgery may be needed to collect tissue for further study. Once a diagnosis has been given, an appropriate treatment regimen will be discussed at length with your veterinarian.

Treatment of Infection of the Brain in Rabbits

Treatment of an infection of the brain will be appropriate to the underlying cause. Antibiotics are often prescribed for many conditions, and often focus on those that can travel across the blood-brain barrier. These can vary, depending on the diagnosis. Antiparasitic medications can be prescribed for parasitic infections. Treatment for roundworm would include these medications, with short term corticosteroids to control the inflammation.

In cases of encephalitozoon cuniculi, treatment can be difficult because there is not enough evidence to support clear correlations between treatment and an improvement of symptoms due to the complications of collecting data. Often the data is collected post mortem. Antiparasitics, such as albendazole, fenbendazole and oxibendazole may be prescribed.

Corticosteroids may be prescribed in many cases to decrease brain swelling and inflammation, as well as pain medications, such as NSAIDs or metacam. Anti-epileptic medications may be prescribed for seizures.

Treatment for ear infections can include antibiotics, anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months, and corticosteroids are sometimes recommended for a shorter amount of time. Occasionally, surgery may be needed to remove debris. Other treatments include cleaning ears, and pain medication with an anti-inflammatory component. Any other treatments will be in accordance to the diagnosis, and can range from general antibiotic treatments, to surgery to look for malignant growths. Your veterinarian will design a treatment plan with you.

Recovery of Infection of the Brain in Rabbits

After care will depend on the diagnosis and treatments involved. Often, when any type of infection is involved, maintaining a clean living space and environment free of infectious agents is key to preventing re-infection in your rabbit. If your rabbit has any companions, watch their behaviors and have them tested. Separate any infected rabbits from non-infected ones to prevent transmission. To prevent a parasitic infection such as roundworm, keep your rabbit away from raccoon infested areas.

Any surgery will have accompanying follow-up care. Some conditions, such as cancer or some infections, may require future veterinary visits for checkups and continuing care. In any case of illness, diet will be looked at and adjusted if needed. In cases where impaired motor function can cause an injury, make sure your rabbit’s environment is safe.