Northdale Veterinary Practice

rcvs 108

Myxomytosis In Rabbits

5 - If one rabbit in a pair or group gets it, should it be isolated straight away?

If a decision is made to treat one rabbit, then really I think it needs to be isolated from the others. Whilst that doubtless adds to that rabbit’s stress (and that of the healthy rabbits), the risks of infecting the others are significant, even if diligent insect vector removal is performed.

Treating ideally involves raising the ambient temperature to 85F / 29.5C for the infected rabbit, and that is not comfortable for healthy rabbits.


6 - Should the remaining partner, or group members also be isolated from other rabbits in case they are incubating the disease and able to transfer it to rabbits in the next run / enclosure? (either by direct contact or close proximity for mechanical vectors)

Ideally, yes. If all were infected at the same time, and one or more have lesions, the others may simply be a few days behind, and therefore potentially infective soon. They should all be treated for fleas, and placed in a separate airspace to definitely infected, and definitely unexposed rabbits.


7 - How can we prevent myxi in the first place:

Vaccination is the mainstay of preventative healthcare. Regular vaccination, either every 6 months, via the intradermal and subcutaneous routes, using Nobivac Myxo, or every year, by the subcutaneous route alone, with Nobivac Myxo-RHD, is advised.

Xeno or Advantage Spot On and Rearguard 2 days apart?

Insect control is vital. Rearguard DOES NOT prevent, kill nor deter fleas.

Permethrin based products eg Xenex spot on, repel and kill biting insects and fleas. This has the advantage of preventing them from biting and spreading myxomatosis

Advantage does not need the flea to bite, to take up the active ingredient and die, but it may take up to 12 hours to kill fleas, which obviously permits them time to attach and spread myxomatosis.

Environmental control, using insecticides, insect repellents, and physical barriers eg fine mesh on windows and doors, mosquito netting etc is helpful, especially at times of the day when they are active eg dusk.

Preventing other domestic pets from bringing either wild rabbits, or fleas from wild rabbits, into the home or garden, is important. Rabbit fleas may be carried by dogs and cats, after they have hunted wild rabbits. They typically line up on the edge of the ears. Domestic pets should be examined, treated, and not allowed near rabbits until it’s certain that there are no fleas present.


8 - How do I need to clean the environment (shed / hutch / paving / grass) before reintroducing rabbits to an area that had an infected rabbit in it?

Inside fleas it can survive for up to about 4 months, and the survival times in the wider environment are very much less than that, although to be sure, obtaining new rabbits within that length of time is unwise, and although stringent flea control and disinfection should be sufficient to minimise the risk, new infections are still possible from fleas and flying insects that gain access, so ongoing control is vital.


9 - If my rabbit has had myxi will they be immune?

Should I still vaccinate (cover the vhd risk)

This is controversial, and it’s difficult to give firm advice here. I would prefer to err on the side of caution. Some references suggest lifelong immunity following recovery from natural infection, and others suggest absolute immunity for several months. Without performing antibody testing, it is best to assume that all animals are susceptible, and I would recommend vaccinating with both myxomatosis and RHD vaccines to afford the highest level of protection against both. The Myxo-RHD vaccine carries warnings to the effect that in rabbits with existing immunity to myxomatasis, there may not be a good level of post-vaccination RHD immunity. In such cases, a single RHD vaccine may be given 2 weeks after the combined vaccine.

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