Myxomatosis infected Rabbit in Aylesford Kent
Myxomatosis (sometimes shortened to "myxo" or "myxy") is a disease that 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 (see Rabbits in Australia). Affected rabbits develop skin tumors, and in some cases blindness, followed by fatigue and fever; they usually die within 14 days of contracting the disease.
The disease is spread by direct contact with an affected animal or by being bitten by fleas or mosquitoes that have fed on an infected rabbit. The myxomatosis virus does not replicate in these insect hosts, but can be physically carried by an insect's mouthparts, i.e. from an infected rabbit to another susceptible animal. Due to the potential of insect vector transmission, pet rabbits may be susceptible in enzootic areas and vaccination is highly recommended