Myxomatosis in rabbits – Everything you need to know about causes, symptoms and treatment!
Myxomatosis, also known as rabbit plague, is one of the most common viral diseases in rabbits. It is almost always fatal. Fortunately, there is now a very effective vaccine that protects against the symptoms or. The course of the disease is significantly alleviated. For humans. Other pets this disease is not dangerous. It is not dangerous for humans and other pets.
In our myxomatosis guide, you'll learn everything you need to know about this nasty rabbit disease.
Myxomatosis in rabbits: Brief overview
-> Everything you need to know about myxomatosis in rabbits explained in 30 seconds:
Explanation: A smallpox virus causes myxomatosis. The disease occurs almost exclusively in wild and domestic rabbits. TransferStinging or biting insects transmit the virus. Rabbits may also become ill after contact with infected animals, contaminated food or contaminated objects. SymptomsIn the edematous form of the disease, swelling of the eyes, lips, nose, ears and anogenital area are prominent. In the nodular form form skin-. Subcutaneous thickening. Diagnosis: When an unvaccinated animal shows the symptoms, the veterinarian can quickly make the diagnosis. If there is any doubt, a blood test will confirm the amption. Treatment: Only under promising circumstances the veterinarian initiates a therapy. Prognosis: The prognosis in the edematous course is poor. If the rabbit suffers from the nodular form, it is better to evaluate it. Prophylaxis/vaccination: Hygiene measures, insect protection and avoiding contact with wild rabbits are important. The best way to protect rabbits from myxomatosis is vaccination.
Cause: Where does myxomatosis in rabbits come from??
Myxomatosis is caused by the virus Leporipox myxomatosis. It belongs to the smallpox virus family. The virus affects almost exclusively domestic and wild rabbits. Field hares are only very rarely affected. It originated in South America and was deliberately used to reduce the overpopulation of wild rabbits in Australia and Europe. The disease eventually came to Germany via France in the 1950s.
Rabbits of any age are susceptible to the virus. Young animals are particularly susceptible, however, and usually suffer from a more acute form of the disease.
Infection: how is myxomatosis transmitted?
There are unfortunately numerous ways in which the virus is transmitted.
These are the main modes of transmission of rabbit plague:
Stinging or biting insects, For example, mosquitoes, rabbit fleas – Direct contact with an infected rabbit via feces, mucous membranes or wound secretions – When feeding rabbits via contaminated food that has come into contact with the pathogen, for example, freshly picked green fodder or hay – Contaminated objects
Rabbit plague is also a particularly insidious disease, as the virus can survive outside the host for a long time. Even recovered rabbits can be contagious for up to six months afterwards.
The disease used to occur mainly in the spring, summer and fall. As winters become milder due to climatic changes, more insects survive during the cold months to transmit the virus. Therefore, the disease now occurs throughout the year.
The incubation period, i.e. the time between the virus entering the body and the first symptoms, is approximately four to ten days in the case of rabbit plague.
Symptoms: How to recognize myxomatosis?
Myxomatosis can be divided into two different forms: the edematous and the nodular form. The edematous form of progression occurs more frequently. Mixed forms are possible.
Symptoms in the edematous course of myxomatosis
– First the rabbits get nasal discharge and swollen and reddened eyelids of the eyes. – Swelling is spreading to lips, base of ears, nose and anogenital area. – In males, the testicles become inflamed. – Rabbits develop discomfort when swallowing and breathing as the mucous membranes in the throat and upper respiratory tract swell up. That is why they do not eat anymore and lose weight. – Other pathogens can worsen the condition of the rabbit. Secondary infections such as bacterial pneumonia are possible.
The diseased animals usually die after a few days to a few weeks.
Symptoms of the nodular form of rabbit plague – MOSTLY MILDERS! Skin is formed-. Subcutaneous thickening from. These become ulcerated, necrotize, scab over and heal over time. – Predominantly affected are also here the rabbit head and the anogenital area.
Sometimes the viral disease is peracute. Then the disease develops extraordinarily fast. The signs are less pronounced. The animals die within a few hours. The most obvious feature of the peracute course is a swelling in the eye area, which you can easily confuse with a harmless conjunctivitis.
Diagnosis: How to recognize myxomatosis in rabbits?
You can recognize the rabbit plague by the typical symptoms mentioned above. When you present your pet to the vet, he will follow up his first suspicion by asking if the rabbit is vaccinated. Is the animal unvaccinated, If his suspicion is confirmed. If there are still doubts, blood tests secure the findings.
Treatment: What can be done against myxomatosis??
Therapy for the edematous form of the disease is not possible. The veterinarian can initiate supportive therapies as well as force-feeding, but the chances for the rabbits to survive are low.
Surviving animals are usually in a lasting bad state of health. Therefore, it is usually better to euthanize rabbits with an edematous course for animal welfare reasons. This way the animals will have to suffer less.
It is more likely that animals with the nodular form of the disease will recover. In this case, breathing and swallowing are usually less affected. The veterinarian can start a symptomatic therapy for the nodular form of the disease with the prospect of success.
Possible treatment approaches:
– Antibiotics to prevent secondary infections – Interferons, paramunity inducers (agents for increased immune defense) – Antivirals (antiviral drugs) – Anti-inflammatory and antipyretic drugs – Analgesics – Infusions to stabilize circulation – Oxygen for respiratory distress – Saline inhalation – Gastrointestinal stimulants – Eye ointments – Hand feeding/syringe feeding – General care, to keep the rabbit clean, dry and warm (hot water bottle, warming blanket) – Disinfection of all furnishings and daily replacement of bedding
Prognosis: What are the prospects of cure?
As mentioned above, the prognosis for rabbits suffering from the edematous form of myxomatosis is very poor. The chance of survival in the edematous course is very low.
The prognosis for the animals suffering from the nodular form of rabbit plague is much better. Here a symptomatic treatment can bring the hoped for success.
Prophylaxis: How to prevent myxomatosis in rabbits?
The best protection against myxomatosis is regular vaccination by the veterinarian. The rabbit must be healthy. Although vaccination does not guarantee 100% protection, the disease is usually harmless and sometimes even unnoticed. Rabbits can be vaccinated as early as the fifth week of life. Basic immunization and repeat vaccinations are carried out by the veterinarian according to the instructions of the vaccine manufacturer.
TIP: If you want to know exactly the vaccinations before talking to the veterinarian, visit the corresponding websites of the Standing Commission on Vaccination in Veterinary Medicine .
Furthermore, it is very important that you take care of the necessary hygiene and adequate insect protection. It is essential to regularly clean and disinfect the rabbit hutch and the immediate surroundings of the rabbits. Also the installation of a fly screen on windows is useful. In addition, you can use so-called spot-ons with active ingredients against mosquitoes and other insects, with which you treat your rabbits regularly. You should also avoid any contact with wild rabbits. Do not give your animals green food from areas that are also populated by wild rabbits!
FAQs – Other frequently asked questions about myxomatosis in rabbits
How often do I have to vaccinate my rabbits against myxomatosis??
There are different vaccines against myxomatosis. Depending on the vaccine, your animal will be basic immunized with one vaccination or with two vaccinations. Repeat vaccinations are given every six months or every year. There are combined vaccines that offer protection against RHD (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease) at the same time.
=> Your veterinarian will advise you when and with which vaccine you should vaccinate your rabbits.
Make sure that all the important information about the vaccination is entered in your rabbit's vaccination record! This includes date of vaccination, exact vaccine details and practice stamp with signature. In this way you can keep track and decide together with your veterinarian at any time about necessary next vaccinations for the animal.
How is myxomatosis transmitted?
Myxomatosis virus is passed on via direct contact with infected animals and via vectors. Biting insects such as mosquitoes or rabbit fleas, but also contaminated feed, are of particular importance.
How much does myxomatosis vaccination cost??
The cost of vaccination against rabbit plague can vary depending on the vaccine used. In addition, the veterinarian charges for a general examination. A consultation according to the scale of fees for veterinarians (GOT) of the Federal Veterinary Association e. V. This does not specify fixed prices, but a fee range from single to triple rate. Medical reasons, special circumstances and the time involved decide here on payments due.
=> If you need exact costs for the myxomatosis vaccination of your rabbits, it is best to contact the veterinary practice of your choice.
Can a dog contract the rabbit pest virus from a rabbit?
For dogs – as well as for cats – the myxomatosis viruses are harmless.
Can a guinea pig contract myxomatosis from a rabbit??
Guinea pigs do not fall ill with rabbit plague.
Can humans contract rabbit plague?
Myxomatosis does not pose a danger to humans.
What does vaccination myxomatosis mean?
Vaccine myxomatosis occurs rarely. Here the rabbit develops about seven to ten days after vaccination mainly the nodular course of the viral disease – usually only at first contact with the vaccine. The nodular form of the disease is the milder variant as described above. Usually well treatable with the listed measures.
If your animal reacts with symptoms to the vaccination, present it to your veterinarian. Discuss with him your further procedure.
Which disinfectants help against the pathogen of myxomatosis?
The pathogens that cause rabbit plague are enveloped viruses. In the mentioned table you can find suitable disinfectants for them. These include products containing the active ingredients peracetic acid, formic acid or aldehydes.
The easiest way for you is to ask your vet for a suitable preparation.
Are you also interested in other important rabbit diseases? Then inform yourself for example about the coccidiosis with our guide "Coccidia in rabbits – everything you need to know about causes, symptoms and treatment!".
Myxomatosis. In: Ewringmann A, ed. Leading symptoms in rabbits. 3., revised and extended edition. Stuttgart: Enke publishing house; 2016
Patient information: Myxomatosis in rabbits. In: Patient information. Version 1.0.