Warning for Sidmouth rabbit owners over deadly viral disease after pet is put down

Rabbit. Picture: Thinkstock

Rabbit. Picture: Thinkstock - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Jurassic Vets issues vaccination plea after bunny showed ‘clear signs’ of myxomatosis

A Sidmouth vet is warning rabbit owners to ensure their pet’s vaccinations are up to date after an outbreak of myxomatosis.

Jurassic Vets had to put down an animal brought in showing clear signs of the deadly viral disease.

“Myxomatosis is a horrible disease and the prognosis for rabbits that become infected is very poor,” said vet Dr Peter Martin this week. “It’s rare for a rabbit to survive myxomatosis, so vaccination is the only way to protect Sidmouth’s bunnies from the virus. The infection spreads through wild rabbits in waves, and then jumps to domestic rabbits through biting insects such as fleas, mosquitoes and flies. It may have been the warm weather at the end of February that has allowed the infection to again start spreading in East Devon. The myxomatosis vaccination should be given annually, usually at the start of spring, to ensure protection through spring, summer and autumn, when biting insects are most common.”

Myxomatosis arrived in the UK in 1953 after being released illegally in France the previous year. The virus is endemic in South American rabbits (Sylvilagus) but produces much more severe disease in the European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, and has been a danger to pet rabbits in Britain ever since.

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