Myxomatosis outbreak

By Lauren Henry
Updated November 6 2012 - 5:10pm, first published December 14 2010 - 11:40pm
There has been an increase in mosquitoes in central Victoria.

AN increase in mosquitoes in central Victoria is causing pet rabbits to die from myxomatosis and is increasing the risk of Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses.Bendigo veterinarians have noticed a sudden increase in pet rabbits contracting myxomatosis, a disease introduced to Australia in 1950 to control the wild rabbit population.McIvor Road Veterinary Centre veterinarian Dr James Chadwick said there was a “massive increase” in rabbits presenting with myxomatosis symptoms, including inflamed eyes, swollen genitals and fever.Dr Chadwick said there was no risk of myxomatosis being spread to humans or other animals.“On average we’ve had about six cases a day and because it’s almost always fatal, the kindest thing to do is euthanase,’’ he said.“We can’t vaccinate against myxomatosis because it’s not legal in Australia.’’Glenda White, of Golden Square, said her seven-year-old pet rabbit had to be euthanased by a vet on Tuesday after showing signs of myxomatosis.She wanted to warn people of the disease outbreak so other pet owners could try to prevent their rabbits from getting myxomatosis.A Victorian Department of Health spokesman said conditions were ideal for a mosquito population increase because of increased rain and surface water. He advised people to avoid mosquitoes and being bitten when possible.“Some mosquitoes can carry diseases, such as Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses, which particularly occur along the Murray River or coastal areas,’’ he said.

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