Myxomatosis in rabbits: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention


Showing a rate of mortality very high, myxomatosis in rabbits is a disease that should not be overlooked. This affection lightning manifests itself by various symptoms that must be identified as quickly as possible. But the best solution remains prevention. Explanations.

Myxomatosis, what is it?

Caused by virus myxomatous (poxviridae family), myxomatosis is an extremely serious disease, contagious and endemic to lagomorphs. The virus was introduced in Australia in 1950 to regulate European rabbit populations that caused extensive environmental and economic damage. It was then introduced illegally in 1952 in France by the Dr Armand-Delille who wanted to eliminate rabbits on his property in Eure et Loir. The virus then colonized all of Europe, decimating the workforce: 95% wild rabbits died of it in the 1950s. Myxomatosis is on the list of reportable diseases mandatory from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Who is affected by myxomatosis?

Originally from South America, the myxomatosis virus is benign for American rabbits of the genus Sylvilagus but is very virulent for European rabbits of the genus Oryctolagus. The disease affects rabbits servants and wild (in which it remains one of the main causes of mortality) while hares and rodents seem spared. Adults are more resistant to affection than adults. youth. Myxomatosis is not spread to other animals or to humans.

Causes of myxomatosis in rabbits

The spread of myxomatosis is most often vector by the sting insects that feed on blood (fleas, blackflies, mosquitoes, lice, mites…). The majority of cases of myxomatosis develop in temperate regions, rural areas and summer – from July to September – when insects swarm biters. Namely that humidity favors the aggressiveness of the virus. The disease is transmitted through contact with contaminated animals and objects (syringes, cages) or by a person with manipulated an infected rabbit.

Clinical signs of myxomatosis in rabbits

The period ofincubation is about ten days before symptoms appear. The disease therefore takes two forms.

The form virulent (or acute) is characterized by:

  • A rise in temperature in rabbits;
  • The appearance of small nodules pinkish (myxomas) where the insects have stung (face, eyes, ears and nose);
  • Symptoms eyepieces (swelling of the eyelids, conjunctivitis, whitish discharge);
  • Difficulties respiratory more or less pronounced;
  • Of flows purulent nasal passages;
  • Possibly swelling at the level of the genitals and the extremities of the limbs;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Apathy.

The form attenuated is translated by :

  • Symptoms identical in the acute form without the presence of skin lesions (or even very small myxomas);
  • In all cases, an abatement with strong fever is found in rabbits.

Diagnosis and prognosis of the infected rabbit

The diagnosis of myxomatosis is made by observing clinical signs and can be confirmed by a test serological or a biopsy. The disease is often lethal: the death of the animal occurring in ten days, even in 48 hours if its health was already poor or if the virus is particularly aggressive. A rabbit that survives the first stage of the disease often has sequelae, such as acute conjunctivitis sometimes leading to blindness. A weakened immune system can also lead to secondary infections such as pneumonia.

Treatment of myxomatosis in rabbits

No There is no treatment available to treat myxomatosis, only the symptoms can be treated (conjunctivitis, infected nodules, lung infection, etc.). Your veterinarian’s prescription will aim to prevent superinfection and relieve pains that the animal experiences.

Prevention of myxomatosis in rabbits

The only way to control myxomatosis is to vaccinate his pet rabbits. The first injection is given at one month of age and the first booster five weeks later. Some vaccines are effective at once and for four months to six months, others act after 21 days and require a booster annual. Attention, we do not carry out vaccination on a pregnant female or nursing, on a sick rabbit or one having recently undergone a treatment based on corticosteroids, nor on a rabbit undergoing surgery. Myxomatosis vaccine does not always prevent the onset of the disease, but it does reduce the gravity symptoms and death rate.

Precautionary actions to avoid myxomatosis

In addition to vaccination, it is strongly recommended to:

  • Provide treatment pest control (fleas, ticks, etc.) to all your pets;
  • Thoroughly clean the cage of your rabbit as well as the equipment after each manipulation;
  • Keep your rabbit away from insects biters, do not leave it in the garden in the evening (when mosquitoes are rife);
  • Wash them hands after coming into contact with other rabbits;
  • Put any newcomer in quarantine (About 10 to 15 days) before integrating it with others.

From vaccination to precautionary measures, you now know how to prevent your rabbit from contracting an extremely serious and ensure a long life by your side!

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