Myxomatosis in Rabbits

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Myxomatosis is a very severe disease among rabbits which almost always results in death. Unfortunately, if your rabbit isn’t vaccinated before being subject to the disease, the chances of survival are very slim.

Key Points

  • Myxomatosis is a fatal virus
  • It’s very common within wild rabbits, not as much with domestic rabbits
  • It can be spread either by insect bites or by another infected rabbit
  • Myxomatosis usually kills its host within 2 weeks of having symptoms
  • It will attack the rabbit’s eyes, skin, genitals and lungs.
  • The only way to prevent Myxomatosis is vaccination
  • Myxomatosis can still be caught after vaccination but the rate of death is much lower.

Symptoms

Symptoms can depend on the rabbit and how early you catch the disease, however, they can be the following:

  • Swollen Eyes
  • Swollen Face and Ears
  • Runny Nose
  • High Temperature / Fever (Check their ears)
  • Wheezing and breathing problems
  • Ulcers and scabs
  • Lethargic (Slow and low energy)
  • Weepy eyes (Pus / Milky)

What Treatments are there?

Unfortunately, there’s no treatment for an unvaccinated rabbit. If your unvaccinated rabbit does develop Myxomatosis, there is, unfortunately, a mortality rate of 99.8%.

If your rabbit is already vaccinated, you rabbits chance of survival is around 50% (Assuming all vaccines are up to date).

Can it be prevented?

Yes, you can vaccinate your rabbit every year to help protect from different strains of myxomatosis.

One of the main causes of Myxomatosis is insect bites, this can be prevented very easily by following these steps:

  • Keep your rabbit in a clean environment to avoid attracting bugs and insects
  • Speakt to your vet about fleat protection for your rabbits
  • If you have cats or dogs they can also carry insects which spread myxomatosis, they should be treated for fleas regularly too.
  • If you keep your rabbit outside, you will want to keep them away from wild rabbits. This can be done by double fencing their run and living area.

If you have multiple rabbits, you will want to make sure that everything is cleaned thoroughly as the Myxomatosis virus can live in various locations; The hutch, water bowls / bottles, food bowls, hay, beds & toys.

What should I do if I think my rabbit has Myxomatosis?

Your first point of action is to contact your local vet for an emergency appointment. The sooner you suspect an issue, the sooner you should contact your vet.