Press Release from the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health:
During July 2010, three fatal cases of myxomatosis in pet rabbits were reported to the Veterinary Public Health & Rabies Control Program. The rabbits lived in the San Gabriel Valley and were primarily kept indoors. However, they did have access to the outdoors, where they may have been bitten by mosquitoes, fleas or black flies which are vectors of this disease.
Myxomatosis is a disease of rabbits caused by a poxvirus. The disease is enzootic in California, especially along the coast. Wild rabbits are generally more resistant to the effects of the virus, but may become infected and spread the disease. In 1950, this virus was deliberately introduced into Australia in an attempt to rid the area of wild rabbits. Initially, 90% of infected rabbits died, but over several years, the mortality rate dropped to approximately 25%.
The virus is spread by biting insects or through direct contact with infected rabbits or contaminated hutches, equipment or clothing. Infected rabbits may develop swollen noses, eyelids, lips, ears or genitals, and may die very quickly. There is no good treatment for this fatal disease, so prevention is extremely important.
Rabbit owners should take the following preventive measures to safeguard their pets:
* Protect the rabbits from blood sucking insects. Use mosquito nets,
and if possible, keep the rabbits indoors at dusk and dawn.
* Reduce mosquitoes on your property by removing any standing water.
* Quarantine new rabbits for at least two weeks.
* Isolate sick rabbits and contact your veterinarian.
* Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands between rabbits. Do not share
equipment between rabbit hutches until it has been thoroughly cleaned
Myxomatosis is a reportable animal disease in Los Angeles County. Veterinarians and rabbit owners should report suspected or confirmed cases of myxomatosis by completing and faxing in the attached reporting form. Additional forms may be downloaded from our website: publichealth.lacounty.gov/vet/Forms.htm
If you have any questions, please contact us at 213-989-7060. Thank you for your assistance with local animal disease surveillance.
Karen Ehnert, DVM, MPVM
County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health
Veterinary Public Health & Rabies Control
Note: This alert and press release may be freely shared and
More information about myxomatosis can be found on these websites: