This virus was reportedly first discovered in China in 1984 and has since spread to many other countries around the world including Australia. During trials conducted on Wardang Island in 1995, the virus somehow managed to travel to the mainland. A vaccination is available to protect your pet against calici. The vaccine can cause side effects with some rabbits. It is important to keep a close eye on their behaviour and daily examine the injection site for a few days. Vets inject in the area at the back of bunnies neck and should immediately massage the site to diffuse the thick serum. To avoid an injection site abscess or sore, I strongly advise owners to continue massaging the area for longer, especially if they can feel a soft lump near the injection site.
It takes between three to ten days after vaccination for rabbits to acquire immunity. Twelve weeks is the usual recommended age for a youngster’s first vaccination. However, current advice is to give 0.2 ml to kits as early as six weeks of age (since they’ve been known to contract the virus much earlier than previously informed) and then a full dose again at 12 weeks. Annual booster shots is recommended to provide continuous protection.
Vaccination Side Effects
Minor symptoms are lack of appetite for a few days, lethargic, a slight increase in temperature and or the injection site loses a little fur with skin showing redness. Adverse serious reactions are a high temperature (check if his ears feel very hot), lesions, dermatitis, ulceration, excessive hair loss, inflammation, no appetite and depression. Serious reactions need immediate veterinary treatment (with antihistamine, corticosteroid or adrenaline) as death is a possibility.
More often than not bunnies infected with this virus are fine one day and then tragically found dead the next. Symptoms are not obvious and may only be listlessness, not wanting to move about, high temperature (from 39°C elevated to 42°C) and increased rapid breathing. Some people blame a sudden unexplained death on the virus but unless it’s confirmed via a post mortem, they can only speculate as to the true cause. A basic autopsy for calici will reveal major lesions, swollen spleen and liver. Blood clots in lungs, heart and kidneys block the vessels and consequently cause heart and respiratory failure in around thirty to forty hours. Diagnosis and treatment is usually not an option when symptoms are minimal and death so unexpected. Death from calicivirus is not painful according to those who promote use of the virus; however, bunny owners adamantly disagree, after witnessing traumatic and obviously painful calici fatalities.
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Myxomatosis is caused by the myxoma virus, a poxvirus spread between rabbits by close contact and biting insects such as fleas and mosquitoes. The virus causes swelling and discharge from the eyes, nose and anogenital region of infected rabbits. Most rabbits die within 10-14 days of infection however highly virulent strains of the myxoma virus may cause death before the usual signs of infection have appeared.