Owning a bunny entails knowing the potential deadly rabbit diseases they are vulnerable to. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and possible cures for these ailments, you will have greater chances of saving your pet.
Here are 5 fatal rabbit diseases and treatment options available for them.
Fatal Rabbit Disease #5: Shope Fibroma Virus
Shope fibroma virus is generally harmless but often lethal to kits and young rabbits. One of the deadliest clinical signs accompanying the disease is the formation of metastatic tumours.
These tumours often appear on the muzzle, legs, and around the eyes. Biting insects such as fleas and mosquitoes are the carriers of this rabbit disease.
What are the signs of a sick rabbit with Shope fibroma virus?
- Inflamed tumours
- Thick and swollen skin
- Skin ulcerations over the tumours
- Alopecia near the tumours
How to treat Shope fibroma virus in rabbits?
- Treatment involves the surgical removal of overgrown tumours to prevent them from interfering with the affected rabbit’s organ function or mobility.
Fatal Rabbit Disease #4: Pasteurellosis
What is the most common disease in rabbits? Pasteurellosis, aka snuffles is one of the most common rabbit diseases as it can be easily transmitted from one bunny to another.
An infected rabbit spreads pasteurellosis through sneezing and exposing healthy rabbits to its nasal excretions.
The bacteria Pasteurella multocida is the root source of this highly infectious disease. Once it invades the body of pet rabbits, their immune systems weaken, and secondary health issues like respiratory infection and chronic inflammatory disease have a high chance of developing.
Pet owners often ask: “Do rabbits carry diseases harmful to humans?” Pasteurellosis does not only cause life-threatening health complications to bunnies but also humans.
Studies show it can induce meningitis and arthritis in people. Rabbit-to-human transmission of pasteurellosis occurs through bites.
What are the signs of a sick rabbit with pasteurellosis?
- Nasal and eye discharge
- Matted fur
- Respiratory tract infections (e.g., pneumonia)
- Skin sores
How to treat pasteurellosis disease in rabbits?
- Infected rabbits will be given oral or injectable antibiotics for about 14–30 days.
- Other medications that the vet will use to treat this infectious rabbit disease are eye drops, nose drops, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Affected rabbits with skin sores might need to undergo surgery for abscess removal.
Fatal Rabbit Disease #3: Myxomatosis
Pet rabbits are highly susceptible to many wild rabbit diseases, including myxomatosis, as they have lower resistance compared to their wild counterparts.
The rabbit disease myxomatosis is caused by the myxoma virus, which uses insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, and mites as hosts.
Their infected bites can result in the spread of the illness. Direct contact with an infected bunny effectively transmits myxomatosis too.
A frequently asked question we hear is: “Can you touch a rabbit with myxomatosis?” Yes, you can, but wearing gloves whilst doing so is necessary to prevent disease transmission.
We also recommend washing your hands thoroughly before and after handling infected rabbits for the same reason.
What are the signs of a sick rabbit with myxomatosis?
- Loss of energy
- Swollen eyelids
- Bloated eyes, ears, or genitals
- Skin haemorrhage
- Skin tumours
How to treat myxomatosis disease in rabbits?
- Affected rabbits are given supportive care, usually in the form of syringe feeding, fluids, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Skin lesions are treated with topical ointments.
- In some cases, the vet may suggest euthanasia for rabbits with severe symptoms of myxomatosis.
Fatal Rabbit Disease #2: Tyzzer’s Disease
Tyzzer’s disease is one of the rare rabbit diseases with a high mortality rate, particularly in young weaning bunnies.
Rabbits catch Tyzzer’s disease when they ingest contaminated droppings or food. Overcrowding and poor sanitation also play a part in disease transmission.
What are the signs of a sick rabbit with Tyzzer’s disease?
- Watery diarrhoea
- Unkempt hindquarters
- Weight loss
How to treat Tyzzer’s disease in rabbits?
Supportive care like fluid therapy, syringe feeding, and antibiotic treatment will be carried out to alleviate the symptoms. However, Tyzzer’s disease has no cure.
Taking preventive measures is the best way to combat the threat it poses to your pet. There is no available vaccine for this rare illness, but here are other things you can do:
- Provide your bunny with prebiotic and probiotic supplementation that strengthens their gut health as well as their immune system.
- Decontaminate the rabbit cage with a disinfectant containing 1% peracetic acid. Remove all the bunnies from the cage whilst cleaning to avoid chemical exposure.
- Make sure to have another rabbit cage prepared if you are adding a new rabbit to prevent an overcrowded living environment.
Fatal Rabbit Disease #1: Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD)
What is the disease killing rabbits? Rabbit haemorrhagic disease ranks high as one of the deadliest rabbit illnesses. It has a high mortality rate ranging between 50% and 100%.
What is more concerning is that RHD can cause sudden death in infected bunnies even when they show no signs of the illness.
Transmission of RHD happens through direct contact with an infected rabbit and exposure to contaminated rabbit droppings, products, and items.
Some pet owners ask: “Can mice spread disease to rabbits?” Studies show that certain infectious diseases in rabbits, like RHD are transmissible by mice as they act as hosts.
What are the signs of a sick rabbit with RHD?
- Weight loss
- Bloody nasal or oral discharge
- Breathing difficulties
How to treat RHD in rabbits?
Sad to say, but there is no effective cure for RHD. It is one of the rabbit diseases that cause death when contracted. Thus, your main goal when it comes to this deadly illness is prevention through:
- Routine vaccinations
- Sanitary handling of rabbits (e.g., wearing gloves, washing hands)
- Regularly clean and disinfect your pet rabbit’s hutch and items
- Keeping your rabbit indoors to avoid exposure to insects, rodents, and wild rabbits