Rabbits are one of the most popular pets in the U.S., however, some rabbit owners may not realize that rabbits can contract myxomatosis, although it is not common for it to happen.
“Myxomatosis is a devastating disease caused by a virus (myxoma virus) that was introduced into Australia in 1950 as a biological control for the wild rabbit population. It is now found worldwide, including in the U.S.,” said Dr. Bryan Carey from Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI),”
Myxomatosis is much more prevalent in feral rabbits than domestics and usually results in blindness and can cause other health problems such as respiratory trouble, pneumonia, conjunctivitis, and much more. Some of these symptoms will not be present or evident immediately after exposure to the virus, so they could go unnoticed for some time.
“Early signs can include loss of appetite, head tilt, and twitching eyelids,” said Carey. “The eyes become inflamed and may develop ulcers on the cornea.”
Can Rabbits Recover from Myxomatosis?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for myxomatosis and it is always fatal. Death usually occurs within two weeks of the onset of symptoms, although in some cases it can take up to a month.
However, there is some good news. “There is a vaccine available for domesticated rabbits, and if your pet contracts myxomatosis, you should consider having him or her vaccinated,” said Carey. “Rabbits that are infected with myxomatosis can also be treated to alleviate secondary infections that complicate the disease.”
The vaccine is available at many veterinary hospitals, and it is routinely performed on rabbit patients before they leave for their new homes. While some pet owners may decide to euthanize their pet once myxomatosis has been diagnosed, there is still hope for those that are willing to provide treatment.
If you have a rabbit and he or she contracts myxomatosis, be sure to get them vaccinated and seek veterinary care immediately. With prompt and aggressive treatment, your bunny may have a chance to recover.