Myxomatosis is a fatal viral disease that only affects rabbits. Here are four things you need to know about it:
What causes it?
The virus that causes myxomatosis is found in California brush rabbits. These rabbits live along the coast of California and Oregon, so rabbit owners that visit this region with their pet need to be careful. Pet rabbits can contract the virus through close contact with these wild rabbits. They can also get the virus after being bitten by a mosquito, flea, or biting fly that has fed on an infected wild rabbit.
What are the symptoms?
The first signs that your rabbit has myxomatosis are swelling of the eyelids and the lips. Your rabbit may also develop conjunctivitis (pink eye). You may notice pus on your rabbit's eyes and eyelids.
Later, your rabbit will develop a high fever and become blind. Sick rabbits will seem depressed and won't want to eat or drink. At the end stages of the disease, pus drips from the sick rabbit's nose, and the rabbit has difficulty breathing; soon afterwards, the rabbit will slip into a coma and die.
Can it be treated?
If your rabbit's disease is aggressive, there is little that your vet can do to help your rabbit. The chances of survival in the advanced stages are close to zero, so it's more humane to put your rabbit to sleep instead of letting them suffer.
In milder cases, treatment may be possible. Intensive care is required, so your rabbit will need to be hospitalized instead of going home with you to recover. The vet will keep your pet hydrated with intravenous fluids and make sure that they are comfortable and warm. Even if your rabbit recovers from their initial disease, they could develop secondary complications like pneumonia due to their weakened state.
How can you prevent it?
Since treatment is difficult or impossible, prevention is the best way to keep your rabbit safe from myxomatosis. Since the virus is spread by wild rabbits and insects, the best defense is to keep your rabbit indoors. Rabbits that live in outdoor hutches have a greater risk of coming into contact with these wild animals. If you take your indoor rabbit outside to play, make sure to supervise them to make sure they stay away from wild rabbits.
Myxomatosis is a very serious disease, so keep your rabbit indoors to reduce their risk of getting sick. If you notice the signs of myxomatosis, take your pet to an emergency vet immediately.One place you can contact is Belle River Animal Clinic.