Invasive Species Compendium

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myxomatosis

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Datasheet

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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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: 07 Jan 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

AlgeriaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
BotswanaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
BurundiAbsentJul-Dec-2018
Cabo VerdeAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
Central African RepublicAbsentJul-Dec-2019
Congo, Democratic Republic of theAbsentJul-Dec-2019
Côte d'IvoireAbsent, No presence record(s)
DjiboutiAbsentJul-Dec-2019
EgyptAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
EritreaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
EthiopiaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
GhanaAbsentJan-Jun-2019
KenyaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
LesothoAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2020
LiberiaAbsentJul-Dec-2018
LibyaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
MadagascarAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
MalawiAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
MauritiusAbsentJul-Dec-2019
MayotteAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
MozambiqueAbsentJul-Dec-2019
NamibiaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
NigerAbsentJul-Dec-2019
RéunionAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
Saint HelenaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
SenegalAbsentJul-Dec-2019
SeychellesAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
Sierra LeoneAbsentJan-Jun-2018
SomaliaAbsentJul-Dec-2020
South AfricaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
SudanAbsentJul-Dec-2019
TogoAbsentJul-Dec-2019
TunisiaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
ZimbabweAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019

Asia

ArmeniaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
AzerbaijanAbsentJul-Dec-2019
BahrainAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2020
BangladeshAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2020
BhutanAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2020
BruneiAbsent, No presence record(s)
ChinaAbsent, No presence record(s)
GeorgiaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
IndiaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
IranAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
IraqAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
IsraelAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2020
JapanAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2020
JordanAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
KazakhstanAbsentJul-Dec-2019
KuwaitAbsentJan-Jun-2019
KyrgyzstanAbsentJan-Jun-2019
LaosAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
LebanonAbsent, No presence record(s)
MalaysiaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
-Peninsular MalaysiaAbsent, No presence record(s)
-SabahAbsent, No presence record(s)
-SarawakAbsent, No presence record(s)
MaldivesAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
MongoliaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
NepalAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
North KoreaAbsent, No presence record(s)
OmanAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
PalestineAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
QatarAbsentJul-Dec-2019
Saudi ArabiaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2020
SingaporeAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
South KoreaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
Sri LankaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
SyriaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
TaiwanAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
TajikistanAbsentJan-Jun-2019
ThailandAbsentJan-Jun-2020
TurkmenistanAbsentJan-Jun-2019
United Arab EmiratesAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2020
UzbekistanAbsentJul-Dec-2019
VietnamAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019

Europe

AndorraAbsentJul-Dec-2019
BelarusAbsentJul-Dec-2019
BelgiumAbsentJul-Dec-2019
Bosnia and HerzegovinaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
BulgariaAbsentJan-Jun-2019
CroatiaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
CyprusAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
CzechiaPresentJul-Dec-2019
DenmarkAbsentJan-Jun-2019
EstoniaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
Faroe IslandsAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
FinlandPresentJul-Dec-2020
FrancePresentJul-Dec-2019
GermanyPresentJul-Dec-2019
GreeceAbsentJan-Jun-2018
HungaryAbsentJul-Dec-2019
IcelandAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
IrelandPresentJul-Dec-2019
Isle of ManPresent
ItalyPresent, LocalizedJul-Dec-2020
JerseyPresent
LatviaAbsentJul-Dec-2020
LiechtensteinAbsentJul-Dec-2019
LithuaniaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
LuxembourgPresent
MaltaPresentJan-Jun-2019
MoldovaAbsentJan-Jun-2020
MontenegroAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
NetherlandsPresentJul-Dec-2019; in wild animals only; suspected in domestic animals
North MacedoniaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
NorwayAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
PolandAbsentJan-Jun-2019
PortugalPresentJul-Dec-2020
RomaniaAbsentJul-Dec-2018
RussiaAbsentJan-Jun-2020
San MarinoAbsentJan-Jun-2019
SerbiaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
SlovakiaPresentJul-Dec-2020
SloveniaAbsentJul-Dec-2018
SpainPresentJul-Dec-2020
SwedenPresentJul-Dec-2020; in wild animals only
SwitzerlandPresentJul-Dec-2020
UkraineAbsentJul-Dec-2020
United KingdomPresentJul-Dec-2019
-Northern IrelandPresent

North America

BahamasAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
BarbadosAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2020
BelizeAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
BermudaAbsent, No presence record(s)
British Virgin IslandsAbsent, No presence record(s)
CanadaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
Cayman IslandsAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
Costa RicaPresentJul-Dec-2019
CubaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
CuraçaoAbsentJan-Jun-2019
DominicaAbsent, No presence record(s)
Dominican RepublicAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
El SalvadorAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
GreenlandAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
GuatemalaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
HaitiAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
JamaicaAbsentJul-Dec-2018
MexicoAbsentJul-Dec-2019
NicaraguaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
Saint Kitts and NevisAbsent, No presence record(s)
Saint LuciaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
Trinidad and TobagoAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2018
United StatesPresent, LocalizedJul-Dec-2019

Oceania

AustraliaPresentJul-Dec-2019
Cook IslandsAbsentJan-Jun-2019
Federated States of MicronesiaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
FijiAbsentJan-Jun-2019
French PolynesiaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
KiribatiAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2018
Marshall IslandsAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
New CaledoniaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
New ZealandAbsentJul-Dec-2019
PalauAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2020
SamoaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
Timor-LesteAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
TongaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
VanuatuAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019

South America

ArgentinaPresentJul-Dec-2019
BoliviaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
BrazilAbsentJul-Dec-2019
ChileAbsentJan-Jun-2019
ColombiaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
EcuadorAbsent, No presence record(s)
Falkland IslandsAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2019
French GuianaAbsentJul-Dec-2019
GuyanaAbsent, No presence record(s)Jul-Dec-2018
ParaguayPresent
PeruAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
SurinameAbsent, No presence record(s)Jan-Jun-2019
UruguayAbsentJul-Dec-2019
VenezuelaAbsentJan-Jun-2019

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/

OIE, 2018. World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS): Jul-Dec. In: OIE-WAHIS Platform, Paris, France: OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). unpaginated. https://wahis.oie.int/

OIE, 2018a. World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS): Jan-Jun. In: OIE-WAHIS Platform, Paris, France: OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). unpaginated. https://wahis.oie.int

OIE, 2019. World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS): Jul-Dec. In: OIE-WAHIS Platform, Paris, France: OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). unpaginated. https://wahis.oie.int/

OIE, 2019a. World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS): Jan-Jun. In: OIE-WAHIS Platform, Paris, France: OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). unpaginated. https://wahis.oie.int/

OIE, 2020. World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS): Jul-Dec. In: OIE-WAHIS Platform, Paris, France: OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). unpaginated. https://wahis.oie.int/

OIE, 2020a. World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS). Jan-Jun. In: OIE-WAHIS Platform, Paris, France: OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). unpaginated. https://wahis.oie.int/

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