Sadly we have just seen our first case of myxomatosis this year, some what earlier than normal with the unusual weather over winter.
Myxomatosis is a severe viral diease of rabbits which was first seen in the UK in Edenbridge in 1953, nearly wiping out the wild rabbit population.
Myxomatosis affects all rabbits whether they are indoors or outdoors, but is a greater risk to those that live outside. The disease is usually spread by biting insects – fleas, mosquitos – that carry the virus. With the mild and very wet winter followed by this recent warmer weather these insects have had a large increase in numbers.. These can be brought into contact with your rabbits by local wildlife travelling between the wild rabbit populations. Also by your dogs and cats so ensuring they are treated against fleas will help prevent the spread of disease.
The disease in unvaccinated rabbits can initially start with runny eyes and progresses to swelling of the eyes, ears and genials followed by breathing problems. This can take upto a fortnight to cause rabbits do die and involves a lot of suffering and very few survive even with a lot of care.
We aim for prevention of the disease as it is so severe and spreads easily. There is a vaccination to help prevent Myxomatosis and is given one a year. It is combined with Viral Heamorragic Disease which is also rapidly fatal to rabbits.