Did you know that the myxo virus is still a very big risk to bunnies in all parts of Australia (no matter if you live in a big city)???? The summer of 2010/2011 was the worst year of myxomatosis we have seen in over 15 years. Thousands of pet rabbits died tragically.
Myxomatosis is a disease caused by infection with the Myxoma virus, a pathogen deliberately introduced to Australia in an attempt to control populations of wild rabbits. Resistance to the disease has built up over time in wild populations, but the virus is still fatal to domestic rabbits. It is transmitted by biting insects such as mosquitoes & fleas or close contact with wild rabbits. There is no vaccine currently available in Australia.
Also known as Rabbit Haemorrhagic Virus (RHV), this virus was originally spread to mainland Australia unintentionally, having been initially confined to an experimental trial being conducted on an island off South Australia. The virus was later deliberately introduced to the mainland, where it was partially effective in reducing populations of wild rabbits in the coastal fringe of southern Australia. Calici is transmitted to rabbits by biting insects (it is thought to have first reached the mainland through the agency of a blood-sucking fly) and can be spread from rabbit to rabbit in unsanitary conditions.
Fortunately, a vaccine is available in Australia and can be administered annually by your vet but once a bunny has calici, there is no cure.
Have you ever heard of rabbits (& other animals) becoming flyblown?? This is when flies lay their eggs onto an animal (usually targetting a dirty bottom), the eggs hatch & the maggots start feeding on the host (not something you would wish on your worst enemy!!).
How to avoid these illnesses
Keep your bunny indoors - this way your bunny will be safer from insects as well as predators, not to mention your bunny will be a happier & friendlier part of your family (of course you still have to be careful of insects inside the home but it's still much safer!!).
Insect-proof your outside housing - this is the most important thing of all!!!! Buy a roll of insect-proof mesh from the hardware store & attach it to any open areas with either a staple gun, nails, glue, tape (whatever it takes!). PLEASE!!! Don't let your bunny be another statistic!
Clean bunny's house/tray daily - this not only stops any odours, but will ensure your bunny will be safe from fleas and other diseases which will be caused by an unhygienic environment (would you want to live in your own poo for days??).
Get the bunny off the ground - rabbits living on grass or soil in an outside enclosure are far more at risk of flea bites than a rabbit that lives above the ground (especially if sharing a backyard with dogs or cats). Enclosures with wire flooring are definitely not recommended as rabbit's feet can be injured standing on hard wires. Thick untreated wood is advised as the best flooring.