Is Your Beloved Rabbit at Risk of Killer Virus Myxomatosis?

UK, June 1, 2018 – Death in domestic rabbits due to the viral disease, myxomatosis is a common occurrence every year and yet pet owners are often left ignorant to the fatal condition and how to protect their beloved pets against it.

Veterinary surgeon and technical manager for MSD Animal Health, John Helps, warns rabbit owners to be aware of the common disease and to understand that protection against it is essential.

What is Myxomatosis?
Myxomatosis is a severe viral disease that can affect both indoor and outdoor rabbits, often with horrible consequences. The condition is contracted through flies and mites as well as fleas and mosquitoes that have previously bitten an infected rabbit. It can also be contracted through direct contact with other rabbits that are infected.

What are the symptoms of Myxomatosis once contracted?
The nasty disease is usually terminal and -symptoms include a high fever, puffy swelling over the head and face, with thickened skin around the eyes, mouth and ears, and also around the perineum (anus and genitals).

Discharge from the eyes and nose can result in breathing difficulties, which can relate to secondary bacterial respiratory infections.

Eating and drinking commonly becomes progressively more difficult within days of signs first being noticed.

Can Myxomatosis be treated?
Unfortunately, very few domestic rabbits survive myxomatosis and those that do suffer a protracted illness, which is why protecting your animal is so important. Most rabbits die within 10-14 days of Myxomatosis infection. In some particularly aggressive cases though, the virus may cause death even before the signs of infection have appeared. Many rabbits have to be euthanized.

How can you ensure your rabbit is protected against serious infectious diseases like myxomatosis?
Myxomatosis is fatal for rabbits in most cases and so the best course of action to ensure your pet is protected against the life-threatening virus is to take preventative measures.

There is a vaccine available that can be used to vaccinate your rabbit against myxomatosis. A single inoculation will provide immunity to both myxomatosis and another serious viral disease, Rabbit Haemorrhagic disease (RHD-1) and an annual booster is needed. Separate vaccination may also be recommended against a second strain of this infection (RHD-2).

Seek help from your local vet with regard to the vaccinations and boosters your rabbit needs to remain protected and live a healthy, happy life.

About MSD Animal Health
For more than a century, MSD, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA, is the global animal health business unit of MSD. Through its commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals®, MSD Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services. MSD Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D resources and a modern, global supply chain. MSD Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.