Rabbit health

Diseases of rabbits that pose a threat to human health

August 24, 2019

When our pets get sick, we do our best to help them and cure their ailment. But before providing first aid to a sick person, you need to remember that infectious diseases of animals can be contagious to humans. And this means that you must first take care of your safety, because the health of the pet also depends on your health. And in this article we will consider those diseases of rabbits that are dangerous to humans.

Obvious signs of a sick rabbit

Despite the fact that rabbits are valuable animals in every sense (their meat is rich in various vitamins, macro and microelements; their fur is considered valuable for making outerwear, hats and boots), nature has endowed them with fragile and susceptible to many diseases organisms, often not capable independently suppress the focus of infection.

Diseases of rabbits that pose a threat to human health

In the power of the rabbit breeder to recognize some signs that will indicate that the individual in front of him became ill.

These signs look like this:

  • the lethargic appearance of the animal, often in a lying position;
  • unusual behaviors;
  • serous or transparent discharge from the mucous membranes;
  • shedding of hair, partial or complete baldness, loss of shine at the coat;
  • labored and rapid breathing;
  • bouts of trembling;
  • ulcerative or purulent formations on the body;
  • the presence of blood in the stool, frequent and profuse diarrhea, or, conversely, constipation;
  • manifestation of convulsions and paralysis;
  • attack of lice or fleas.

It is infectious, viral and bacteriological diseases that pose the greatest danger to human health, as they can be transmitted both tactilely and by airborne droplets, as well as through small insects. Therefore, next to infected individuals from the rabbit herd, you need to be very careful not to suffer yourself and be able to do everything necessary for the speedy recovery of the long-eared pet.

Diseases of rabbits that pose a threat to human health

What diseases of rabbits are dangerous for humans?

The list of the most common viral and infectious lesions of the rabbit herd, which pose a rather high degree of danger to human health, includes: scabies, fascioliasis, cysticercosis, pasteurellosis, listeriosis, helminthiasis, tularemia, and several others. Let’s consider them in more detail.

Scabies (psoroptosis)

Scabies is a disease of the skin of rabbits, which is a danger to humans. Pathogen: transmitted along with the tick. Contact with the skin of the tick causes itching and irritation. Favorite mite locations are the auricle or scalp, underneath the hairline.

Symptoms the presence of slight redness on the skin, in the center of which a wound is visible. There may also be slight swelling in this area, the appearance of small transparent vesicles with a liquid substance inside, which flows out when a thin shell explodes, after which it dries up and creates scabs.

Diseases of rabbits that pose a threat to human health

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Treatment: dried scabs should be moistened with turpentine and removed using tweezers. After 4–5 days, this procedure is recommended to be repeated.

Prevention: as an additional protection against ticks, it is recommended to treat the cage with rabbits with 5% Creolin solution.


Fascioliasis. a helminthiasis disease in rabbits that affects the liver and biliary system, can occur in acute or chronic form.

Pathogen: mollusk is a small pond, which is found in stagnant bodies of water, such as lakes or ponds, as well as in grass growing near bodies of water.


  • rapid pulse;
  • confused, uneven breathing;
  • swollen eyelids;
  • heat;
  • swelling in the abdomen and neck.

In the case of the chronic form of fascioliasis, individual fragments of the body are bald, and the entire coat of the animal becomes brittle and overdried. The mucous membranes of the eyes and mouth become icteric.

Diseases of rabbits that pose a threat to human health

Treatment: using a probe, 1–2 ml of carbon tetrachloride is introduced into the rabbit’s body, and this treatment is combined with the anthelmintic drugs “Bitinol” and “Closantel”.

Prevention: in order to prevent infection, grass collected near ponds should be eliminated from the rabbits ’diet, and water should not be given from ponds and lakes.


Cysticercosis is an invasive disease caused by parasitization in the muscle tissue of cestode larvae of dogs, foxes, and cats. Quite widespread, affects rabbits under the age of 1 month. It is dangerous for humans in contact with an infected animal.

Pathogen: cestode larvae localized in the omentum, pelvic protrusion of the peritoneum and under the capsule of the liver. It can also spread to all organs inside the animal’s body.

Symptoms has no specific signs of infection. The only symptom is a depressed appearance and low mobility, but these same indicators also indicate many other diseases, and therefore without consulting a veterinarian you can not determine the type of disease. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare to diagnose cysticercosis correctly. Often this is possible only after opening the dead rabbit.

Diseases of rabbits that pose a threat to human health

Treatment: this disease is not treated.

Prevention: it is necessary to conduct quarterly measures to deworm the number of rabbits, introducing 10% Mebenvet granulate into their food. Also, stray or guard dogs, which can become a source of infection, are not allowed near the rabbitry. Dead rabbits need to be burned to prevent the spread of infection.

Pasteurellosis (hemorrhagic septicemia)

Pasteurellosis is a particularly dangerous bacteriological lesion, characterized by inflammation of the internal organs. A person has a high risk of infection by contact with a sick animal. There are two varieties of this ailment: typical and atypical.

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Pathogen: provocateur stick Pasteurella.

Symptoms the following are typical signs of a typical form of pasteurellosis:

  • elevated temperature followed by a rapid decrease;
  • rabbit reluctance to eat;
  • rapid and uneven respiratory processes;
  • gray and cloudy discharge from the mucous membranes of the face;
  • often accompanied by profuse diarrhea.

Signs of the atypical form of pasteurellosis are subcutaneous encapsulated abscesses, protruding in separate parts of the body. This form is weaker than the previous one, and therefore the lethargy and weakness of the animal are less common.

Diseases of rabbits that pose a threat to human health

Treatment: the typical form cannot be cured. Rabbits die within 1-3 days. The atypical form is treated with antibiotics. The injection of Biomycin in a 2% solution is carried out twice and the Terramycin injection is administered once. All three injections are administered intramuscularly, observing an interval of 20 hours. Abscesses are revealed in the third month from the moment of infection, pus flows out, and the remaining wounds heal. Affected areas can be wiped with antiseptics to accelerate the breakthrough of abscesses and wound healing.

Prevention: compliance with all hygiene and sanitary conditions for keeping animals. Carrying out disinfecting procedures at least 1 time per month.


An infectious septic disease in rabbits characterized by sudden death or abortion. It proceeds in acute, super acute and chronic forms.

Pathogen: Listeria is the very bacterium that causes the development of this disease.

Symptoms mainly females are at risk of infection with this disease. With an over-acute form of listeriosis, females can die unexpectedly without any obvious reason for this. In the acute form, the female is not able to endure offspring, and she has miscarriages. Immediately after a miscarriage, her limbs are taken away. In the chronic form, females cannot give birth at all, since each time the embryo dies in the uterus even before maturation. Only some females with strong immunity can survive, while the rest die.

Diseases of rabbits that pose a threat to human health

Treatment: no treatment has been found to date. All infected individuals are subject to slaughter.

Prevention: conducting regular cleaning of cages, trays, changing litter and examining animals in accordance with the requirements.

Helminthiasis (worms)

Helminthiasis is a helminthic lesion of an animal that can be transmitted to humans through direct contact.

Pathogen: worms from the classes of trematodes, cestodes, nematodes (more than 10 species).

Symptoms infected rabbits show lethargy, weakness, inactivity, often refusal to eat, and even an increase in temperature. A close examination of the feces can reveal white worm eggs or whole fragments of parasites. Often worms can spread far beyond the intestines throughout the body of the animal, forming whole cavities in the internal organs filled with larvae.

Diseases of rabbits that pose a threat to human health

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Treatment: after laboratory tests, the veterinarian will prescribe a set of drugs that will contribute to the death and elimination of worms from the rabbit’s body. It will also be beneficial to conduct deworming at least once a quarter.

Prevention: compliance with sanitary conditions, quality feed and fresh water.


Tularemia is an infectious disease that affects the lymph nodes, most often strikes young individuals in the herd. Also poses a danger to humans in contact with infected individuals.

Pathogen: infection is carried out by air, by eating food and water, as well as by mosquito bites.

Treatment: absent, and therefore special attention should be paid to preventive measures.

Prevention: compliance with sanitary rules, measures for cleaning and disinfection of rabbitry, personal hygiene and the fight against mosquitoes, mice and rats.

Disease prevention

In order to minimize the likelihood of infection of the rabbit herd with various viruses and infections, a number of preventive measures should be applied, as well as the following recommendations:

  • ensuring air circulation, but without drafts;
  • timeliness of cleaning and disinfection;
  • litter replacement at least every three days;
  • thoroughly wash the feeders and drinking bowls, removing the remains of the feed so that bacteria do not breed in them;
  • feed and water should always be fresh and of good quality;
  • regularly inspect your pets for signs of infection;
  • during examination, pay special attention to the mucous membranes and the presence of serous secretions, because they are often the first signs of an impending disaster.

In addition to the general rules for the care and maintenance of rabbits, you should also regularly vaccinate your pets. There are separate vaccinations for myxomatosis and HBV. But also modern veterinary medicine has developed complex drugs that can immediately reduce the risk of the appearance and development of several of the most common and dangerous infections.

Such vaccination is recommended every year. You can start vaccination from 1.5 months of age and, if necessary, and on the recommendation of a veterinarian, re-vaccinate after 6–9 months.

Diseases of rabbits that pose a threat to human health

We all know the phrase: "We are responsible for those we tamed." But do not forget that your own health is also important. And before contacting an infected animal, you need to take all precautions so as not to catch the infection yourself. Guided by the descriptions in the article of the most dangerous and infectious diseases of rabbits for humans, you can protect yourself from accidental infection.

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