Invasive Species Compendium

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myxomatosis

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myxomatosis

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 21 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Animal Disease
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • myxomatosis
  • Overview
  • Myxomatosis is an infectious, virulent viral disease affecting the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) caused by Myxoma virus (MYXV). It was described for the first time in 1896 in Uruguay by Giuseppe Sanarelli, following the emergenc...

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    Compendia
    CAB International
    Wallingford
    Oxfordshire
    OX10 8DE
    UK
    compend@cabi.org
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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Symptoms of myxomatosis in an adult rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Oxfordshire, September 2004.
TitleSymptoms
CaptionSymptoms of myxomatosis in an adult rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Oxfordshire, September 2004.
Copyright©Michael J. Amphlett
Symptoms of myxomatosis in an adult rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Oxfordshire, September 2004.
SymptomsSymptoms of myxomatosis in an adult rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Oxfordshire, September 2004.©Michael J. Amphlett
Adult rabbit with myxomatosis. Oxfordshire, September 2004.
TitleSymptoms
CaptionAdult rabbit with myxomatosis. Oxfordshire, September 2004.
Copyright©Michael J. Amphlett
Adult rabbit with myxomatosis. Oxfordshire, September 2004.
SymptomsAdult rabbit with myxomatosis. Oxfordshire, September 2004.©Michael J. Amphlett
Adult rabbit with myxomatosis. Oxfordshire, September 2004.
TitleSymptoms
CaptionAdult rabbit with myxomatosis. Oxfordshire, September 2004.
Copyright©Michael J. Amphlett
Adult rabbit with myxomatosis. Oxfordshire, September 2004.
SymptomsAdult rabbit with myxomatosis. Oxfordshire, September 2004.©Michael J. Amphlett

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • myxomatosis

Overview

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Myxomatosis is an infectious, virulent viral disease affecting the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) caused by Myxoma virus (MYXV). It was described for the first time in 1896 in Uruguay by Giuseppe Sanarelli, following the emergence of a deadly new disease affecting laboratory rabbits (Fenner and Ratcliffe, 1965). In its natural rabbit hosts, Sylvilagus brasiliensis in South America (South American strains) and S. bachmani (Californian strains) in California, USA, MYXV causes only mild disease. However, in European rabbits it causes serious disease that can result in 100% mortality (Fenner, 1994). MYXV was deliberately introduced to control rabbit populations in Australia in 1950, then in France (illegally) in 1952, from where it spread across the whole of Europe, including Great Britain. MYXV now has a worldwide distribution, is endemic in wild European rabbit populations, and can spill over into farmed, laboratory, and pet rabbits (Fenner and Fantini, 1999). On rabbit farms, the development of vaccines has generally brought the disease under control, although vaccine failures sometimes occur (Dalton et al., 2015). However, myxomatosis remains one of the leading causes of death in wild rabbits, with declining populations recorded in Europe over the past 30 years (Bertagnoi and Marchandeau, 2015).

Myxomatosis is on the list of diseases notifiable to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The distribution section contains data from OIE's WAHID database on disease occurrence. For more information, see the website: http://www.oie.int.

Host Animals

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Hosts/Species Affected

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Myxoma virus infects only lagomorphs. The natural hosts are Sylvilagus brasiliensis in South America (South American strains) and S. bachmani (Californian strains) in California, USA (Fenner, 1994) in which the viral strains produce only a benign fibroma. Following deliberate introductions into Australia and Europe as a biological control for wild European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), MYXV now has a worldwide distribution, is endemic in wild European rabbit populations, and can spill over into farmed, laboratory and pet rabbits (Fenner and Fantini, 1999). European hares (Lepus europaeus) rarely develop generalised disease (Fenner and Ratcliffe, 1965). Wild rabbits act as reservoirs. The chief mode of transmission is biting arthropods, which are passive vectors, and the primary route of inoculation is intradermal (Fenner and Ratcliffe, 1965). Culicidae, Siphonaptera and Simuliidae are the main vectors, with lice, ticks and mites playing only a minor role.

Distribution

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Myxoma virus has a worldwide distribution and is endemic in wild European rabbit populations.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

AlgeriaAbsent, No presence record(s)
BotswanaAbsent, No presence record(s)
Cabo VerdeAbsent, No presence record(s)
Central African RepublicAbsent, No presence record(s)
Côte d'IvoireAbsent, No presence record(s)
DjiboutiAbsent, No presence record(s)
EgyptAbsent, No presence record(s)
KenyaAbsent, No presence record(s)
LesothoAbsent, No presence record(s)
LibyaAbsent, No presence record(s)
MadagascarAbsent, No presence record(s)
MauritiusAbsent, No presence record(s)
RéunionAbsent, No presence record(s)
South AfricaAbsent, No presence record(s)
SudanAbsent, No presence record(s)
TunisiaAbsent, No presence record(s)
ZimbabweAbsent, No presence record(s)

Asia

AzerbaijanAbsent, No presence record(s)
BahrainAbsent, No presence record(s)
BangladeshAbsent, No presence record(s)
BhutanAbsent, No presence record(s)
BruneiAbsent, No presence record(s)
ChinaAbsent, No presence record(s)
IndiaAbsent, No presence record(s)
IranAbsent, No presence record(s)
IsraelAbsent, No presence record(s)
JapanAbsent, No presence record(s)
KazakhstanAbsent, No presence record(s)
KuwaitAbsent, No presence record(s)
KyrgyzstanAbsent, No presence record(s)
LaosAbsent, No presence record(s)
LebanonAbsent, No presence record(s)
MalaysiaAbsent, No presence record(s)
-Peninsular MalaysiaAbsent, No presence record(s)
-SabahAbsent, No presence record(s)
-SarawakAbsent, No presence record(s)
North KoreaAbsent, No presence record(s)
OmanAbsent, No presence record(s)
SingaporeAbsent, No presence record(s)
Sri LankaAbsent, No presence record(s)
TaiwanAbsent, No presence record(s)
TajikistanAbsent, No presence record(s)
TurkmenistanAbsent, No presence record(s)
UzbekistanAbsent, No presence record(s)

Europe

AndorraAbsent, No presence record(s)
BelarusAbsent, No presence record(s)
BelgiumAbsent, No presence record(s)
Bosnia and HerzegovinaAbsent, No presence record(s)
BulgariaPresent
CroatiaAbsent, No presence record(s)
CyprusAbsent, No presence record(s)
CzechiaPresent
DenmarkAbsent, No presence record(s)
EstoniaAbsent, No presence record(s)
FinlandAbsent, No presence record(s)
GermanyAbsent, No presence record(s)
GreecePresent
HungaryAbsent, No presence record(s)
IcelandAbsent, No presence record(s)
Isle of ManPresent
ItalyPresent
JerseyPresent
LatviaAbsent, No presence record(s)
LiechtensteinAbsent, No presence record(s)
LithuaniaAbsent, No presence record(s)
LuxembourgPresent
MaltaAbsent, No presence record(s)
MontenegroAbsent, No presence record(s)
NetherlandsAbsent, No presence record(s)
NorwayAbsent, No presence record(s)
PolandPresent
PortugalPresent
RomaniaAbsent, No presence record(s)
RussiaAbsent, No presence record(s)
SerbiaAbsent, No presence record(s)
SlovakiaAbsent, No presence record(s)
SloveniaAbsent, No presence record(s)
SpainPresent
SwedenPresent
SwitzerlandPresent
UkraineAbsent, No presence record(s)
United KingdomPresent
-Northern IrelandPresent

North America

BarbadosAbsent, No presence record(s)
BelizeAbsent, No presence record(s)
BermudaAbsent, No presence record(s)
British Virgin IslandsAbsent, No presence record(s)
CanadaAbsent, No presence record(s)
Cayman IslandsAbsent, No presence record(s)
Costa RicaPresent
CubaAbsent, No presence record(s)
CuraçaoAbsent, No presence record(s)
DominicaAbsent, No presence record(s)
Dominican RepublicAbsent, No presence record(s)
El SalvadorAbsent, No presence record(s)
GreenlandAbsent, No presence record(s)
GuatemalaAbsent, No presence record(s)
HaitiAbsent, No presence record(s)
MexicoAbsent, No presence record(s)
NicaraguaAbsent, No presence record(s)
Saint Kitts and NevisAbsent, No presence record(s)
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesAbsent, No presence record(s)
Trinidad and TobagoAbsent, No presence record(s)
United StatesAbsent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)

Oceania

AustraliaPresent
French PolynesiaAbsent, No presence record(s)
New CaledoniaAbsent, No presence record(s)
New ZealandAbsent, No presence record(s)
SamoaAbsent, No presence record(s)
VanuatuAbsent, No presence record(s)

South America

ArgentinaPresent, Localized
BoliviaAbsent, No presence record(s)
BrazilAbsent, No presence record(s)
ChilePresent, Localized
ColombiaPresent
EcuadorAbsent, No presence record(s)
Falkland IslandsAbsent, No presence record(s)
French GuianaAbsent, No presence record(s)
GuyanaAbsent, No presence record(s)
ParaguayPresent
PeruAbsent, No presence record(s)
UruguayAbsent, No presence record(s)

Disease Course

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In its classic form, myxomatosis is often fatal, characterised by severe immunosuppression and the appearance of skin pseudotumours (myxomas); it is conducive to effective mechanical transmission by many biting arthropods. Atypical clinical forms, referred to as amyxomatous, of variable severity and with an apparent preference for direct transmission, have emerged in Europe (reviewed by Bertagnoli and Marchndeau, 2015). The clinical signs of this atypical form are predominantly respiratory, while skin lesions are few and small (Marlier et al., 1999).

Prevention and Control

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Control methods include the application of biosecurity measures, in order to avoid the introduction of the infection by infected animals or by contacts with arthropod vectors, and the use of vaccines.

Live vaccines based either on attenuated myxoma virus strains or on a closely related poxvirus, Shope fibroma virus, have been available for some time. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Shope fibroma virus-based vaccines may be considered less immunogenic, while attenuated myxoma virus-based vaccines may be immunosuppressive, particularly in young rabbits (Fenner and Woodroofe 1954; McKercher and Saito 1964). Such immunosuppression in animals held in large rabbitries can lead to serious problems of bacterial respiratory infection. The duration of protection of live attenuated myxoma virus vaccines is usually around four to six months.

A recombinant attenuated live MYXV strain expressing rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) capsid protein and conferring double protection against myxomatosis and RHDV has been developed and it is commercially available in Europe (Spibey et al., 2012). An attenuated field strain of MYXV from Spain has been similarly engineered and tested in laboratory and field studies as a vaccine against both myxomatosis and RHDV for wild rabbits (Angulo and Bárcena, 2007).

References

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Angulo E; Bárcena J, 2007. Towards a unique and transmissible vaccine against myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease for rabbit populations. Wildlife Research, 34(7):567-577. http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/144/paper/WR06160.htm

Bertagnoli S; Marchandeau S, 2015. Myxomatosis. Revue Scientifique et Technique - Office International des Épizooties, 34(2):539-547 (Fr), 549-556 (En). http://www.oie.int/publications-and-documentation/scientific-and-technical-review-free-access/list-of-issues/

Dalton KP; Nicieza I; Llano Dde; Gullón J; Inza M; Petralanda M; Arroita Z; Parra F, 2015. Vaccine breaks: outbreaks of myxomatosis on Spanish commercial rabbit farms. Veterinary Microbiology, 178(3/4):208-216. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03781135

Dinev I, 2012. An outbreak of myxomatosis in rabbits in Bulgaria clinicomorphological studies. Trakia Journal of Sciences, 10(1):79-84. http://tru.uni-sz.bg/tsj/Vol.10,%20N%201,%202012/Iv.Dinev.pdf

Fenner F, 1994. Myxoma virus. Virus infections of rodents and lagomorphs [ed. by Osterhaus, A. D. M. E.]. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Science Publishers, 59-70.

Fenner F; Fantini B, 1999. Biological control of vertebrate pests: the history of myxomatosis, an experiment in evolution. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing, xii + 339 pp.

Fenner F; Ratcliffe FN, 1965. Myxomatosis. Cambridge: University Press, xiv + 379 pp.

FENNER F; WOODROOFE GM, 1954. Protection of laboratory rabbits against myxomatosis by vaccination with fibroma virus. Australian Journal of Experimental Biology and Medical Science, 32:653-668.

Kritas SK; Dovas C; Petridou E; Fortomaris P; Farsang A; Koptopoulos G, 2008. An acute outbreak of myxomatosis in two Greek rabbitries. In: Proceedings of the 9th World Rabbit Congress, Verona, Italy, 10-13 June 2008 [ed. by Xicato, G.\Trocino, A.\Lukefahr, S. D.]. Castanet-Tolosan, France: World Rabbit Science Association, 977-980.

Marlier D; Cassart D; Boucraut-Baralon C; Coignoul F; Vindevogel H, 1999. Experimental infection of specific pathogen-free New Zealand White rabbits with five strains of amyxomatous myxoma virus. Journal of Comparative Pathology, 121(4):369-384.

Mckercher DG; Saito JK, 1964. An attenuated live virus vaccine for myxomatosis. Nature, 202:933-934.

OIE Handistatus, 2002. World Animal Health Publication and Handistatus II (dataset for 2001). Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties.

OIE Handistatus, 2003. World Animal Health Publication and Handistatus II (dataset for 2002). Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties.

OIE Handistatus, 2004. World Animal Health Publication and Handistatus II (data set for 2003). Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties.

OIE Handistatus, 2005. World Animal Health Publication and Handistatus II (data set for 2004). Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties.

OIE, 2009. World Animal Health Information Database - Version: 1.4. World Animal Health Information Database. Paris, France: World Organisation for Animal Health. http://www.oie.int

Spibey N; McCabe VJ; Greenwood NM; Jack SC; Sutton D; Waart Lvan der, 2012. Novel bivalent vectored vaccine for control of myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease. Veterinary Record, 170(12):309. http://veterinaryrecord.bvapublications.com/archive/

Distribution References

Dalton K P, Nicieza I, Llano D de, Gullón J, Inza M, Petralanda M, Arroita Z, Parra F, 2015. Vaccine breaks: outbreaks of myxomatosis on Spanish commercial rabbit farms. Veterinary Microbiology. 178 (3/4), 208-216. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03781135

Dinev I, 2012. An outbreak of myxomatosis in rabbits in Bulgaria clinicomorphological studies. Trakia Journal of Sciences. 10 (1), 79-84. http://tru.uni-sz.bg/tsj/Vol.10,%20N%201,%202012/Iv.Dinev.pdf

Kritas S K, Dovas C, Petridou E, Fortomaris P, Farsang A, Koptopoulos G, 2008. An acute outbreak of myxomatosis in two Greek rabbitries. In: Proceedings of the 9th World Rabbit Congress, Verona, Italy, 10-13 June 2008 [Proceedings of the 9th World Rabbit Congress, Verona, Italy, 10-13 June 2008.], [ed. by Xicato G, Trocino A, Lukefahr S D]. Castanet-Tolosan, France: World Rabbit Science Association. 977-980.

OIE Handistatus, 2005. World Animal Health Publication and Handistatus II (dataset for 2004)., Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties.

OIE, 2009. World Animal Health Information Database - Version: 1.4., Paris, France: World Organisation for Animal Health. https://www.oie.int/

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