Myxomatosis. This is a dangerous rabbit disease that brings a lot of trouble to livestock farmers. It is not for nothing that the whole community involved in the breeding of these animals switched to regular vaccination on their farms. The causative agent of myxomatosis is the myxoma virus belonging to the smallpox family. Epidemics occur almost annually, more often in summer. Especially strong epidemics occur once every five years. Such increased attention to the protection of rabbits from myxomatosis is caused in my opinion by several reasons:
- epidemic nature of the disease
- epidemic regularity (every year)
- very high (up to 90%) animal mortality
- rapid propagation preventing isolation of individual rabbits
- pervasive ability in all households
- chemical resistance and treatment difficulty
Previously, until the 60s of the last century, we did not have this infection. The main problems of rabbit breeders were the preparation of feed and the construction of new cages. Of course, there were diseases that did not allow to finally relax. For example, coccidiosis, the same age as the rabbits themselves, which has passed from wild individuals living in holes. But in households, the disease was not some kind of scourge and rather testified to the negligence of the owner, who was too lazy to clean up the cells in a timely manner. From myxomatosis, the whole economy can die out, even despite the sterile cleanliness and sterile feed.
Myxomatosis is a viral disease originally transmitted in colonies of wild wire-haired rabbits living in South America. In Europe, rabbits (this is a completely different species) were spared from this scourge. But in the middle of the last century, short-sighted biologists, along with the same zoologists, decided to limit the increase in the population of wild animals in the Paris region. Rabbits, indeed, caused significant harm to agriculture. The easiest way for these people seemed to infect them with myxomatosis, taking strains from sick South American rabbits. I do not know what they were guided by. Perhaps it was assumed that our European rabbit would get off with a mild form of the disease and this would inhibit the growth of its population. It turned out as always. If South American bristled rabbits have developed immunity over many hundreds of years, then European pestilence has begun. The Australian government went the same way a little earlier. At first, mortality reached almost 90%, but over the years, immunity gradually began to develop and myxomatosis ceased to significantly reduce the population of wild rabbits.
The situation is different with domestic rabbits. They did not have immunity either or not. And where does he come from, if sick rabbits are mostly rejected and certainly not left for posterity. Since then, myxomatosis has been “mowing" since the eared ears in our farms, unless of course the rabbits have been vaccinated. An exception is newborn rabbits under the age of 2 months. Only they have innate immunity from this dangerous disease, obtained with mother’s milk.
How is myxomatosis transmitted?
If previously your rabbits were healthy and there were no signs of this disease, you still can not relax, especially in the warm season, when blood-sucking insects fly. The disease may appear suddenly from the outside. It is noted that the most fatal epidemics occur during those periods when many mosquitoes appear. Mosquitoes, in turn, multiply massively after prolonged rains, in the area of swamps, wet basements of buildings, and simply in places where there is moisture. In addition to mosquitoes, there are other blood-sucking insects, such as rabbit fleas, lice, gadflies, flies before hibernation They also need to be borne in mind. Although the listed insects themselves do not suffer, but are only carriers, the myxomatosis virus lives and lives on their salivary glands from one to seven months (in mosquitoes).
Myxomatosis can also be transmitted directly from one rabbit to another. A sick rabbit in the process of life secretes various secretions, for example, from the nose or eyes. They contain the harmful myxomatosis virus. Even if the animal suffered a disease and remained alive, it will still contain the source of the disease in its secretions. But that is not all. The virus is very tenacious, it continues to develop even in animal corpses for almost a week, on dried skins for almost a year, and when buried in the ground, it is dangerous for two years! No wonder before all sick animals, regardless of the cause of infection, they were burned.
The virus of the disease is omnipresent, penetrates the body, wherever possible. In addition to direct contact with a sick animal, it can enter the body through feed. If your rabbits are isolated but have access to a common feeding trough, consider that there is an excellent loophole for the virus to spread. Or, for example, when cleaning in the cells, your inventory is also a carrier of the insidious virus. The virus can settle on the hands and move even long distances. Even if you completely isolate one or more sick rabbits in the hope that the epidemic will not go to “mow” the farm further, while destroying all mosquitoes and flies (which is not realistic), you are unlikely to succeed. The virus spreads well through the respiratory system. And where is the guarantee that the seemingly healthy rabbits, the disease has not yet manifested, but is already at an early stage. The incubation period lasts a week, but can reach 10 days. In conclusion, horror stories (not I invented them) add an important detail. Myxomatosis can spread through the genital tract and infect unborn rabbits. Before letting animals mate and mate, make sure that they are not sick (and not only with this disease).
During an epidemic of myxomatosis, the rabbit breeder should not be afraid of contracting this disease. Myxomatosis does not apply to humans (only rabbit-like and some rodents are ill). But hands still need to be washed more often so as not to infect healthy rabbits. Suppose you greeted a rabbit breeder colleague, came and fed your rabbits, and then remembered what he told you about the appearance of myxomatosis
Signs of myxomatosis.
The most dangerous and fleeting (usually from 2 to 7 days). With this course of the disease, if not all, then almost all animals die. Mortality often reaches 90%. It is useless to treat such rabbits, it is best to reject them and as soon as possible. I advise you to look more often at your pets in the summer, and especially during periods of rampant epidemic. With the edematous form of myxomatosis, the eyes primarily suffer. Their increased lacrimation becomes noticeable. The areas around the eyes turn red, covered with a dried crust (blepharitis conjunctivitis). Then rhinitis (runny nose) develops. It becomes harder for the rabbit to breathe, wheezing appears. Discharge also appears from the nasal openings. And finally, in almost all parts of the body, growths form in the form of tumors, sometimes reaching 4 cm. Liquid accumulates inside them. It is noticeable from the health of the rabbit that the disease causes him suffering. He becomes lethargic, lowers his ears, eats almost nothing and quickly loses weight. Further. you yourself understand that. a tragedy.
Smoother developments. The rabbit does not die immediately, it feels and eats normally. There are no changes in the internal organs. Only small, up to several millimeters, nodules can testify that your pet is sick. They most often appear on the head. They are clearly visible in the area of the eyes and ears. They can sometimes absorb, then reappear. At a later stage, the eyes suffer, pus is released from them, which then dries up, forming a crust. Often the eyelids simply stick together. Nodules on the body increase in size, edematous areas appear on the head, in the anus, sometimes in other parts of the body. The crisis of the disease usually occurs on the 9th. 11th day. Further, everything is as with the edematous form. Wheezing, refusal of food, multiple growths, sometimes mutilating a rabbit beyond recognition (the head resembles a lion’s head). Pneumonia may also develop. The difference is that despite all the relapses, rabbits often (up to 50%) do not die. The body temperature gradually returns to normal, the disease fades on the 30th. 40th day. However, this does not mean that the rabbit is healthy. He still poses a danger to fellow men. For a complete cure, it is necessary to use antibiotics and external antiseptics (iodine and others). The most effective treatment undertaken at an early stage.
How to prevent myxomatosis and is it worth it to treat?
First of all, let me remind you the common truth. any disease is much easier to prevent than to cure. To do this, there are reliable vaccines that have long passed the test of time and are successfully used by the overwhelming number of rabbit breeders. All other precautions described above are optional and do not guarantee safety. Read more about vaccination here.
Usually, domestic rabbits are not treated at all on farms. And not all veterinarians take up rare decorative ones. Too little chance of a complete cure. In general, the procedure for epidemics according to veterinary legislation is approximately the following:
It also contains a formal answer to the frequently asked question about eating meat from sick rabbits. Although theoretically there is cooked meat of a sick or sick rabbit with myxomatosis, you can. Any infectious disease doctor will confirm this to you, because for people the disease is absolutely safe. I will add that there is no virus at all in the cooked rabbit dish. If it is resistant to chemical influences, then it is not at all at elevated temperatures. So already at 55 ° dies in a few minutes. It all depends on your personal feelings, concepts and squeamishness. So decide for yourself.
Personally, I never eat the meat of any sick or dead rabbits, the soul, as they say, does not lie. And it is not known when and where the virus will “mutate” (change). After all, once the chicken and swine flu caused by viruses were considered harmless to humans.
Why sometimes the vaccine does not work.
I must say that vaccination can sometimes fail. This can happen with an expired or poor-quality vaccine. May not affect a certain rabbit due to its individual characteristics. It sometimes happens that almost all vaccinated animals will soon develop nodules indicating myxomatosis. It looks like a weak form of the disease. Do not panic immediately. This is quite acceptable, since the existing immunity will not allow the disease to develop, it will fade and the nodules will soon disappear. You can speed up the process of the disappearance of these unwanted symptoms by lubricating the myxomas with special drugs, for example, ASD Fraction 3
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