Myxomatosis is a devastating disease. It attacks the rabbit’s lungs, face and genitals and is almost always fatal.
It is common in wild rabbits and can be passed on through direct contact with a sick rabbit. It can also be passed on by biting insects, like mosquitos, fleas and mites. It can also live on hutches, food bowls and water bottles for some time.
Symptoms usually begin with puffiness around the face, ears and genitals. The rabbit may become blind due to the swelling around their eyes. They might also struggle to eat and drink, and will develop a high fever. Rabbits will often die from this disease.
Sadly, if an unvaccinated rabbit catches myxomatosis it’s almost always fatal. The kindest thing to do is put them to sleep.
Vaccinated rabbits usually don’t get the fatal form of the disease. They can still develop much milder symptoms of the disease, but they have a good chance of getting better with lots of veterinary care.
- Vaccination is the best way of protecting rabbits from myxomatosis.
- Rabbits will need regular boosters throughout their life to keep them protected.
- Myxomatosis can be passed on by biting insects. Use insect-proof screens on your rabbits’ hutch to keep out flies and mosquitos. If you also have cats and dogs, make sure they’re regularly treated for fleas.
- Regularly clean rabbits’ hutches and enclosures and then disinfect them using rabbit-safe, virus-killing disinfectant.
- Never re-use hutches, food bowls or other items from rabbits that have had myxomatosis, and don’t let new rabbits into any areas infected rabbits may have been.
- Don’t let your rabbits mix with wild rabbits. Double-fence their hutches and runs to prevent outdoor rabbits being able to touch wild rabbits.