Myxomatosis is a viral disease that occurs in domestic and wild rabbits. Myxoma virus, from the poxvirus group, was intentionally introduced into wild rabbit populations, which are the original host of the virus, in Europe and Australia to reduce rabbit populations. Unfortunately, however, the virus has also spread to our domestic rabbits and affects them. Read on to learn how to recognize myxomatosis in your rabbit, how to treat it and, most importantly, how to avoid infection.
How your rabbit can contract myxomatosis
The virus spreads either through direct contact with an infected rabbit or through contact with the food, bedding, enclosure or water bottles/bowls of an infected rabbit.
However, myxomatosis can also be transmitted by bites from blood-sucking insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, flies, lice and mites.
Symptoms your rabbit shows if it has myxomatosis
Clinical signs typically develop within 14 days of contact with the virus.
Most often observed:
Discharge from eyes and/or nose
Red eyelids and eyes
Swollen eyelids, nose, lips, face, ears, in the area of the anus respectively. the genitals
Fever, often above 40 °C
Purple spots on the skin of the father
lumps or bumps on the skin
Death, even peracute death without significant symptoms
How the diagnosis "myxomatosis" is made?
Often your veterinarian can make a tentative diagnosis based on the clinical signs.
Swab samples from the eyes and nose or biopsy tie samples can then be initiated for laboratory testing to confirm the presence of the virus.
Treatment of myxomatosis
Unfortunately there is no cure for myxomatosis. In our domestic rabbits it is almost always fatal. The mortality rate is 99%, so unfortunately it is unlikely that a rabbit will survive a myxomatosis infection.
Because of the very poor prognosis for recovery, painless euthanasia is often recommended for symptoms that limit your pet's quality of life.
If symptoms are very mild and detected early, treatment can be attempted based on supportive measures for your rabbit. This includes force feeding, giving intravenous fluids, antibiotics to treat secondary infections, pain medication, and isolating your rabbit from other rabbits because it is a contagious disease.
How to prevent your rabbit from contracting myxomatosis?
The good news is that to prevent your rabbit from contracting myxomatosis in the first place, you can do a few things.
Below we have listed the most important points for you to consider:
In Germany you can have your rabbit vaccinated against myxomatosis. Consult our veterinarians at FirstVet to learn more about myxomatosis vaccination.