The Purpose Of Vaccination For Myxomatosis

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Myxomatosis (sometimes shortened to "myxi" or "myxo") is a disease which affects rabbits and is caused by the Myxoma virus. It was first observed in Uruguay in laboratory rabbits in the late 19th century. It was introduced into Australia in 1950 in an attempt to control the rabbit population.

In rabbits of the genus Sylvilagus (cottontail rabbits), myxomatosis only causes localized skin tumors, but the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is more severely affected. At first, normally the disease is visible by lumps (myxomata) and puffiness around the head and genitals. It then may progress to acute conjunctivitis and possibly blindness; however, this also may be the first indication of the disease. The rabbits become listless, lose appetite, and develop a fever. Secondary bacterial infections occur in most cases which cause pneumonia and purulent inflammation of the lungs. In typical cases where the rabbit has no resistance death may take place with frightening rapidity, often in as little as 48 hours. Death usually occurs within 14 days.

It is crucial to prevent the misdiagnosis of myxomatosis with Pasteurellosis. Pasteurellosis is a bacterial infection which can be treated with antibiotics. Rabbits treated for Pasteurellosis must often be treated with antibiotics for several weeks to several months. Some rabbits may require surgical intervention in order to remove purulent tissues and abscess. Once Pasteurellosis has become well entrenched, however, there is no guarantee the animal will survive. By contrast, at this writing, there is no treatment for rabbits suffering Myxomatosis, other than palliative care to ease the suffering of individual animals, and the treatment for secondary and opportunistic infections, in the hopes the treated animal will survive.

Though the vectors of communication are similar, either contact with an infected animal, cage, feeding or water dishes, and insects, Pasteurellosis can also be spread through breeding, specifically infecting the sexual organs of the animal. Likewise, it is advisable to arrive at the correct diagnosis for the benefit of both rabbit and owner. Of course, if nobody wants the rabbit to survive, such concerns need not be entertained. In cases of Myxomatosis and rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) the owner is often urged to euthanize the animal to ease its suffering.

Often the difference between diagnosing a fatal viral infection and a complex, but treatable bacterial infection, like Pasteurellosis, will likely include medications, X-rays, surgery, convalescent, and follow-up care. While surgery and antibiotics may successfully treat Pasteurellosis, they will not treat Myxomatosis or RHD. The owner and attending veterinarian must quickly discern between untreatable diseases and treatable conditions.

Myxomatosis and RHD are highly communicable, and untreatable at any stage, whereas rabbits suffering from diseases/conditions other than Myxomatosis and RHD, such as poisoning, heat exhaustion, E. coli or Clostridium perfringens type E enterotoxemia can benefit from timely veterinary intervention.
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Sabina Kucz has 1 articles online

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The Purpose Of Vaccination For Myxomatosis

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This article was published on 2011/04/21