More and more rabbits live as pets in private households. Unfortunately, many rabbit owners still believe that only long-eared eggs on large farms need to be protected from deadly disease by vaccination. This is a dangerous misconception: Rabbits kept as pet animals are threatened to the same extent by the infectious diseases of myxomatosis and Chinaseeker as farm rabbits. Therefore, rabbits in pet ownership must be vaccinated regularly.
Usually fatal: China Seek (RHD)
This highly contagious viral disease of domestic and wild rabbits was first described in China, which is why it is still called so today. The scientific name, however, is “Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease”, veterinarians speak briefly of RHD. The pathogen is a highly resistant virus in the environment, which can be transmitted directly from animal to animal, but also indirectly via persons, food, litter, dust and transport cages. The direct transfer takes place via the faeces, urine, saliva, nasal and eye secretions and over the cover act. Of course, there is always a special risk of infection if many rabbits come together, for example at exhibitions. Also, the rapid spread by flying insects is playing an increasingly important role – due to the milder winter, the number of mosquitoes is increasing steadily, so that they are now also found outside the summer months. Therefore, even rabbits in housing are at risk of being infected by mosquitoes with Chinaseuche. The disease is so acute that usually no clinical symptoms are observed, but affected animals are suddenly found dead without previous signs of disease. Only in the rare delayed courses are symptoms such as nose bleeds with severe shortness of breath, bloody urination or bloody fatal rabbit diarrhea observed. China Search is not treatable, it is currently the most dangerous rabbit disease.
Very contagious: myxomatosis (rabbit plague)
Myxomatosis or rabbit plague is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. The myxomatosis virus is specific to the host and therefore can not be transferred to other animals or humans. For this reason, only rabbits, including wild rabbits, are affected by myxomatosis, with the exception of a few cases of brown hares. The transmission of the pathogen is mainly by Stechinsekten, such as mosquitoes, mites, ticks and rabbit fleas. But even a direct infection of rabbits to rabbits or on the feed (green fodder!) Is possible, and also the human can act as an intermediate carrier for the virus. There are two manifestations of myxomatosis: the fatal edematous form and the slightly milder nodular form. Animals affected by the edematous form of myxomatosis suffer from swollen purulent eyes, pasty swellings of the mouth, nose, and ears, and of the extremities of the extremities and genitals. The animals do not eat and drink anymore, have shortness of breath and die from secondary infections after one to two weeks. The nodular form is evident in the elastic nodules in the skin and subcutis, which decay into ulcers during the course of the disease. A targeted treatment is not possible even in the nodular form. The symptomatic treatment with antibiotics, infusions and if necessary force-feeding can be tried in the nodular form. The few animals that have survived a myxomatosis disease remain lifelong virus excretors.
Prevent with combined vaccination against RHD and myxomatosis
As mentioned earlier, the risk of rabbits contracting myxomatosis and quinine (RHD) has increased dramatically in recent years due to the increased incidence of biting insects. Since there are no treatment options for both diseases, prevention is of particular importance. This includes avoiding contact with wild rabbits and feeding no meadow food that can be accessed by wild rabbits. The most important preventive measure, however, is vaccination against myxomatosis and RHD. Until a few years ago, there were only separate vaccinations against the two diseases, with the vaccine for myxomatosis lasted only half a year – it had to be vaccinated twice a year and in the first vaccination even several times primed. This meant many veterinary visits at frequent intervals and stressed rabbits! Now, however, there is a combined vaccine that protects against both myxomatosis and RHD and needs to be given only once a year. A multiple primary vaccination in the first vaccination year is no longer necessary with the combined vaccine. It is the first vaccine with a full year immunity against myxomatosis and RHD – already after one egg single vaccine. Rabbits can be vaccinated from the age of five weeks. Offspring of vaccinated dams are protected against myxomatosis and RHD by breast milk until the age of four weeks. Important for pet lovers: In contrast to the formerly common RHD vaccines, the new combined vaccine does not require rabbits to obtain vaccine virus.