Myxomatosis in Rabbits

Myxomatosis in Rabbits

Here we can see, “Myxomatosis in Rabbits”

Myxomatosis, also known as myxi, is a dangerous viral infection that causes severe symptoms in pet rabbits, including fever, lethargy, and inflamed eyes. Myxomatosis, unlike bacterial diseases that can be treated with medication, is difficult to treat and frequently fatal. There are no precise therapies, and supportive care can only help rabbits recover on rare occasions. Myxomatosis can be avoided with prophylactic measures like vaccination, flea repellents, and keeping your rabbit away from potentially infected ones.

What Is Myxomatosis?

The myxoma virus, a type of pox virus that only affects rabbits, causes myxomatosis. There are several strains of this virus, each with a different level of pathogenicity. Myxomatosis can affect both wild and farmed rabbits. Although wild rabbits can live as carriers, farmed breeds are usually lethal (particularly those of European descent). After the disease is passed on, it hits quickly, and most rabbits die within two days of showing signs of illness.

Symptoms of Rabbit Myxomatosis

Rabbits with myxomatosis can get quite sick very quickly. It’s not very common for a rabbit to die within 48 hours of showing signs of illness.


  • Conjunctivitis (red, runny eyes)
  • High fever (rectal temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
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Rabbits will show signs of illness, such as food rejection or lethargy, within hours or days of receiving the myxoma virus, and their eyes will become swollen. If a rabbit does not die within two days, the disease may spread to the mucous membranes and other tissues, including the eyes, nose, mouth, genital and anal areas, and ears (which become droopy if they are usually standing). The entire face of the rabbit may swell, and viscous pus may be released from the nose. The rabbit will have difficulties breathing as a result of the swelling and secretions. The majority of rabbits die within 14 days of developing these symptoms.

Lumps and nodules (myxomas) may develop on the body in more chronic cases (depending on the viral strain and immunity of the rabbit). Rabbits with this lumpy form of myxomatosis have a chance of surviving and developing immunity to the myxomatosis virus. This is a regular occurrence in wild cottontail rabbits, although it appears to be a less likely occurrence in domestic rabbits. Instead, most pet rabbits with myxomatosis show severe signs of the disease and eventually die from it.

Causes of Myxomatosis

The pox virus is transferred by blood-sucking insects, but it can also be spread by coming into contact with an infected rabbit. The virus’s carriers include:

  • The rabbit flea
  • Mosquitoes, mites, lice, and flies
  • Infected rabbits (less common)

Diagnosing Myxomatosis in Rabbits

A veterinarian’s recognition of the characteristic symptoms, blood and urine tests to detect the virus, and biopsies of myxomas are used to diagnose myxomatosis in a live rabbit. However, because the disease is usually fatal quickly, a postmortem examination is used to make a diagnosis.


Because there is no specific treatment for myxomatosis, your veterinarian can only provide supportive care (fluids, antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, and pain medication). It is frequently suggested because domestic rabbits are highly sensitive to the virus and suffer considerably from illness symptoms. Palliative care, on the other hand, can sometimes help a formerly healthy, young rabbit recover.

Myxomatosis in a Rabbit’s Prognosis

Unfortunately, a rabbit with myxomatosis has a poor prognosis. This disease kills a lot of domestic rabbits.

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How Can Myxomatosis Be Prevented?

Take the following steps to keep your rabbit away from sources of disease to help prevent myxomatosis:

  • Avoid mosquitoes: Keep your rabbit indoors if possible and away from mosquito-infested regions.
  • Use a flea repellent: Even if your rabbit never goes outside, a monthly prescription flea preventive for pet rabbits may be a smart idea.
  • Allow your rabbits no contact with other rabbits: Avoid bringing unknown rabbits together at fairs, exhibits, or other activities.
  • Sick and exposed rabbits should be quarantined: Take precautions to avoid direct transmission through your clothing, food, and other items. Any rabbit exposed to a sick rabbit should be quarantined for 14 days and monitored for myxomatosis symptoms.
  • Get your rabbit vaccinated: You can vaccinate your rabbit against myxomatosis if you live in the United Kingdom. It may not completely eradicate the disease, but it significantly reduces its severity; vaccinated rabbits can and do recover. Rabbits can receive the vaccine once they are 6 weeks old. In areas where myxomatosis is common, it is repeated every year or every six months. Since 2012, this vaccine has been sold together with the vaccine for rabbit hemorrhagic disease.

The myxomatosis vaccination is not accessible in the United States or Australia, owing to fears that the vaccine’s virus could spread to the wild rabbit population. If this happens, the wild rabbit population may develop a tolerance to myxomatosis, resulting in a population explosion. In Australia, myxomatosis was once put into the rabbit population on purpose to reduce the number of rabbits. Instead, the rabbits became more resistant to the disease, which led to a rise in rabbit numbers in the long run.

Is Myxomatosis Spreadable Among Animals?

Because myxomatosis is contagious in rabbits, it’s critical to keep a sick rabbit isolated from others as soon as symptoms develop. Direct contact between rabbits, as well as indirect contact (through items such as food dishes or clothing that transport the virus from rabbit to rabbit) and air transmission, are all plausible ways for the virus to spread.

User Questions

Can a rabbit survive myxomatosis?

The disease still poses a threat to wild and domestic rabbits. Although some rabbits survive the acute form, the chronic form can kill them in 10 days and the acute form in two weeks.

What did myxomatosis do to rabbits?

Infected rabbits develop swelling and discharge from their eyes, nose, and anogenital region. Although most rabbits die after 10–14 days of illness, more virulent myxoma virus strains can induce death before the typical indications of infection manifest.

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Is myxomatosis a man-made disease?

Myxomatosis is a good example of what happens when a virus transfers from an adapted host to a naive host, and it’s been extensively studied because of it. In the 1950s, the virus was put into Australia, France, and Chile on purpose to get rid of the wild European rabbit populations there.

Is there a vaccine for myxomatosis?

There are presently no myxomatosis vaccinations approved for use in Australia, but other prophylactic precautions can be taken. These include safeguarding pet rabbits against disease-carrying mosquitos and fleas.

Can hares catch myxomatosis?

Myxomatosis is a highly infectious and lethal disease that affects wild and domestic rabbits, as well as hares on rare occasions. Myxomatosis is a type of pox virus distributed by fleas, mites, and biting flies like mosquitoes, as well as direct contact between afflicted animals.


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