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Melbourne's mozzie invasion could spell danger for rabbits

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Melbourne's mozzie invasion could spell danger for rabbits 14/11/2016

Recent heavy rains have resulted in a scourge of mosquitos throughout Victoria, and with the infestation expected to last all summer, the consequences are potentially fatal for our pet rabbits. Head of Exotics and Wildlife Medicine at Lort Smith Animal Hospital, Dr Tristan Rich, has urged owners to look out for symptoms associated with these diseases and seek treatment immediately.

Mosquitos carry and transmit a variety of diseases that can be particularly dangerous for our beloved bunnies. The most common and potentially fatal health conditions that mozzies can pass onto our furry friends are myxomatisos, heartworm and calicivirus.

Myxomatosis

Often referred to as ‘myxo’ or ‘myxy’, this disease affects rabbits and often results in death within 14 days of contracting the disease. The most common symptoms are swollen eyes, ears and genitals. Unfortunately in some cases, sudden death occurs without any signs. There is no vaccination available for myxomatosis

Calicivirus

Calicivirus affects rabbits with 70-100% dying once affected. This disease damages internal organs such as the liver and gut, and can also cause haemorrhage or bleeding. It can be very fast acting and rabbits may not show any symptoms of having the disease. For slower acting infections you may notice loss of appetite, lethargy and some bleeding from the nose, mouth and rectum. There is no cure for calicivirus. However, there is a vaccine available to pet owners to protect their rabbits from this disease.    

Dr Rich, said the best action is prevention.

“Ensure your rabbits’ vaccinations are up to date. Preventative treatment is much cheaper than an unexpected hospital visit. And removes the emotional toll these situations create.”

Heartworm

Dogs, cats and even ferrets are susceptible to heartworm. Currently heartworm isn’t a major issue in Melbourne due to cooler weather, however for anyone travelling north to warmer climates with their pets, particularly over the summer holidays, they may very well be at risk. Heartworm is preventable with monthly medication or yearly injections.

Symptoms may include a dry persistent cough, lack of stamina, weight loss, dry coat and listlessness. Treatment can be effective but takes at least 60 days and consists of a series of drug injections to kills the worms.

Tips for reducing a mosquito infestation in and around your home:

  1. Bring your pet rabbits indoors at dusk and dawn, when mozzies are most prevalent
  2. Mosquito-proof your rabbits’ enclosures/hutches with screen material
  3. Use citronella candles or lemon eucalyptus oil to repel mozzies
  4. Remove build-ups of water around your home as stagnant water is a breeding ground for mozzies.
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