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Rabbit health/disease problems article

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by hobson, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. hobson

    hobson Engaging Member

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    Seeing as most weeks we get pictures up asking 'whats this?' and 'can i still eat it?!' i thought i'd start compiling a list of various rabbit afflictions with pictures to help people identify that special blob.
    This is information from personal knowledge and from a trainee vet friend, i've tried to keep it simple and understandable but if anyone wants to add bits or correct anything then please do, though you'll have to PM mods and they should be able to edit the post.

    Firstly,the main one Myxomatosis or mixy.

    This is basically syphillis in rabbits, it was introduced in Australia to cull the rabbit population, and it did such a good job it nearly wiped them out, fortunately now rabbits do seem to be able to develop animmunity to it.It is carried and transferred by the fleas which live on rabbits, and is NOT transferable between species, it can only be caught and transferred by rabbits, whether domestic or wild.It is an awful disease for them to have and you really are doing them a favour by killing them.Mixi is noticeable by cloudy eyes in the early stages, to closed puffy eyelids and scabby puss-filled eyes in the later stages, it causes blindness so if you see rabbits stood still or running in circles when there's a danger, they most likely have mixi.

    Can i eat it?

    Yes, but i wouldn't in the later stages as it will affect the taste of the meat (according to my local butcher) but gutted and cooked properly it will be fine in the early stages.

    What does it look like?

    myxomatosis2.jpg


    Liver fluke

    Horrible little beasties, Liver fluke are a parasite and have a very long winded and complex life cycle, from eggs to larvae, and larvae to actual flukes, they live in the liver and left untreated cause liver disease. They look like little white spots on the liver, which grow into bigger white lumps and in the later stages the liver can have holes and look a bit like a brain, very unhealthy when it should be smooth.

    Can I eat it?


    Yes, but make sure you gut the animal and cook it properly. Liver fluke can live in humans and animals, including dogs and ferrets, so those of you who feed raw rabbits to your dogs or ferrets need to make sure you check the rabbits before feeding them, again, gutting the rabbit should make them safe, but a dose of Milbemax wormer every three months will make sure your hound is healthy.

    What does it look like?


    fluke.jpg

    Tapeworm / cyst


    Another horrible little beasty, again a parasite which causes the famous worm, like liver fluke they have a long and complex life cycle.Tapeworms can be acquired if rabbits eat vegetation contaminated with carnivore faeces, usually fox droppings, although domestic dogs and cats are a possible source of transmission too. Rabbits are an ‘intermediate host’ for tapeworm infection - the worms cannot complete their lifecycle in the rabbit, hence rabbits cannot pass on tapeworm infections except by being eaten. Tapeworm cysts look like milky white blobs and are full of little white eggs, they can be anywhere on the rabbit but are usually on the legs or stomach area as they're the lowest areas, the eggs are transferred from grass to the rabbit when they brush against them.

    Can I eat it?


    Assuming you’re only dealing with a cyst which normally comes before the tapeworm, then yes, PROVIDED you remove the affected area and cook the rabbit very well.Eating a rabbit with a tapeworm cyst should really be a lack of options rather than a choice.

    What does it look like?

    tapeworm-cyst (1).jpg

    Tulameria


    This is a bacterial infection and is very similar to bubonic plague, but in rabbits.It is transferable to humans, mammals, birds and reptiles and is carried by fleas, mites, ticks, blackflies and lice.It is noticeable if the rabbits seem lazy or sluggish, run slowly, rub their noses on the ground and have muscle spasms.It can only be properly diagnosed with blood tests, but makes the liver lighter in colour and causes lots of little white spots.Thankfully Tulameria is not a common disease, but because it can be caught by humans it is a public health concern, so affected areas are normally signed.

    Can I eat it?


    Yes, if it is thoroughly cooked, but to be honest i wouldn’t risk it unless I was starving.When handling rabbits with Tulameria gloves are advisable.

    What does it look like?

    tularemi_19223_7.jpg

    Pasteurellosis


    A rather nasty bacterial infection, It is most often transmitted among chronically infected does and their litters or between breeding males and females. The bacteria most often reside in the nose, lungs and eye membranes, but can spread to other areas of the body. Pasteurellosis of rabbits may take many different forms. Respiratory disease, including pneumonia and infection of the nasal passages and sinuses, is very common. Infections of the eye membranes, middle ear, jawbone and uterus are most often the result of the Pasteurella organism. Abscesses are also common and occur when the Pasteurella organism settles in a specific location. The rabbit's body responds to this invasion with an influx of tremendous numbers of white blood cells to fight the infection. Pus results from the accumulation of dead and dying white blood cells and tissue cells in the area of the infection.You’ll know a rabbit has pasteurellosis if they look like they have a hardcore cold, runny nose/eyes and pus around either, they also scratch more around these areas due to the irritation.

    Can I eat it?


    Pasteurellosis can be caught by domestic livestock and poultry, and although it is not ‘caught’ by humans it is a bacteria nonetheless, so could make you or your pet ill.As with most things, cooking it well will kill any bacteria but like other things, it’s probably best left unless you’re starving.

    What does it look like?

    abscess5502.jpg


    Abscesses


    Abscesses are localized collections of pus or other nastiness in a capsule like lump under the skin.Causes are numerous but are usually caused by an underlying condition, so it could be anything from pasteurella (above) to dental disease, Abscesses can also be caused by a bite or foreign object entering the skin (a thorn sticking in and breaking off)

    Can I eat it?


    As long as you can identify that it isn’t caused by something else (which you’ve already checked for haven’t you?!) then removing the affected area and cooking it well, it should be fine.Depending in the cause though, taste can be affected, so if you’re a rabbit meat connoisseur, then best leave it alone.

    What does it look like?


    abscess 2010.jpg 9188Rabbit_chinabscess_21days.jpg

    Ringworm


    Ringworm is a fungus which causes dry, scabby bald patches, it is caused by an imbalance of various bacteria in the skin and left untreated can make a real mess.It is not as the name suggests anything to do with actual worms though, it is in fact more similar to dermatitis or eczema.Ringworm can be carried and passed on by most mammals, so yes, you can catch it from a rabbit, and it from you! It can also be caught by domestic pets.Luckily it is only caught by direct contact, and being a fungus this is easily avoided by simply washing your hands well.Ringworm thrives in wet, damp areas so you’re more at risk if you’re sweaty and damp a lot, and handling infected bunnies won’t help.

    Can I eat it?


    Yes, though it may be unsightly it is only a skin condition, it does not mean there are ring–shaped worms inside, so gut it, skin it and cook it.But make sure you wash your hands properly after handling.

    What does it look like?


    ringworm.jpg


    Calcivirus / Rabbit Haemorrhagic disease

    Similar to Mixi in that it is used as population control in some places, but is now occurring due to outbreaks from carriers of the disease.Specific only to rabbits and has the highest mortality rate of anything else they can get (over 90%) if you have an outbreak of this, don’t expect to see any rabbits for a long time.Signs of infection are swollen/bleeding eyes, bloody discharge from the nose and paralysis, but in some cases the rabbit can look perfectly healthy from the outside, but internally, blackening of the spleen, a swollen liver which looks like it’s falling to bits and dark brown kidneys.

    Can I eat it?


    Yes, there is no danger to humans (though i don't want to speculate on the flavour) but as the disease is so destructive, it’s better to play it safe and incinerate any infected rabbits, that includes dead and live ones (shot first obviously) as the live ones will be carriers and will infect others.

    What does it look like?


    calci1.jpg calciinternal.jpg


    Thats all for now, but i'll add more as time allows, again, if anyone wants to add anything, please feel free. And if mods want to make this a sticky, please do as i hope it will help people. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
    Ezana4CE, OldStock, phil.m and 13 others like this.
  2. andy46

    andy46 Donator

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    great idea,this should def be a sticky,then we could all add are own pics to help others out,and to see what sort of things are effecting rabbits up and down the country.
     
    Methersgate likes this.
  3. hobson

    hobson Engaging Member

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    Nice to see this is well received, i've added another after chatting to the landowner/farmer where i live, he suggested ringworm as it's apparently quite common.
    Calcivirus too.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
    Methersgate likes this.
  4. ferplexed

    ferplexed Posting Addict

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    Awesome write up and very well set out to make for easy reading! Definitely a sticky for me.
     
  5. halfbee

    halfbee Well-Known Member

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    What a hideous thread. Thanks very much for the info :)
     
    NEfretman likes this.
  6. dave ratz

    dave ratz Posting Addict

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    The best explaination ive seen for quite some time on any forum im on, thanx very much for info, i hope people read this as its to the knuckle,open and honest, thanx very much.....Ratz
     
    Methersgate likes this.
  7. SteveA

    SteveA Engaging Member

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    very usefull post! 10/10
     
    Methersgate likes this.
  8. bullet23

    bullet23 Engaging Member

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    very very handy
     
  9. nobbybonez

    nobbybonez Busy Member

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    sticky this please, thanks for the top info.
     
    Methersgate likes this.
  10. hobson

    hobson Engaging Member

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    :D i did think that myself! by the time i'd put the last couple on, i thought i'd never touch another rabbit! disease ridden little sods! but all the stuff listed isn't too common, apart from mixi, so it's pretty unlikely they'd have more than a couple at a time.

    It's like the side effects on Paracetamol, there might be twenty listed, but you'd be unlucky to get more than two or three, so in that respect rabbits are still a safe, sustainable, organic food source!

    -just check them first!

    :)
     
    NEfretman, Methersgate and foxtrott like this.
  11. CaptainMP

    CaptainMP Engaging Member

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    Thanks very much excellent read.

    90% of my kills are rabbit, you have taught me a few things i didn't know, cheers.
     
  12. rab a sas

    rab a sas Engaging Member

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    looks good to me, now if i have one of those 'can i eat it' pictures and questions il post it here instead..... :D

    Basically... check the liver and if that looks fine, and the meat looks fine when you skin it, chuck it in the pan? I'm not keen on running the risk with the others.. even if it is just a risk of tasting rank....

    Rab
     
    NEfretman likes this.
  13. hobson

    hobson Engaging Member

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    To be honest, parasites and other nasties would be killed during cooking, so they'd be safe to eat anyway, but then it's down to our soft, spoiled western choice of saying 'i'm not eating that!

    As a general rule my grandfather told me, if it's healthy on the outside, and the organs are plump and shiny, there are no lumps or blobs growing on it and it smells fine, then it's fine to eat.
     
    Methersgate likes this.
  14. SteveA

    SteveA Engaging Member

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    mods, this should be made a sticky!
     
  15. p45ton

    p45ton Busy Member

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    Great stuff, must have took you sometime to compile. Thank you, defo for a sticky.
     
  16. pistolpete1981

    pistolpete1981 Busy Member

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    Very interesting thread but it has made me feel somewhat quezzzzzzzy. Nothing quite like eatting bad meat
     
    NEfretman likes this.
  17. Ianhw77k

    Ianhw77k Big Poster

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    Wow, what a fantastic thread. Well done for doing it but I have one question.

    Do rabbits get infected with Lyme disease and if so what are the signs for this?
    There was an upsurge in Lyme disease last summer so this could be relevant as I know it can be passed on to humans.
     
  18. hobson

    hobson Engaging Member

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    Regarding Lyme Disease, yes, they can catch it, the symptoms are very similar to Tulameria (my vet friend says he thinks it's the same bacteria) and the signs to look for are the same;

    White spotted liver
    Swollen Spleen

    There can also be marks on the skin where the tick has bitten, but on a rabbit it's doubtful you'd see them. I'd say treat any suspected Lyme Disease carriers same as you would Tulameria carriers.

    HTH :)
     
    foxtrott likes this.
  19. cruben

    cruben Member

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    A very informative post and enlightened me of a lot of things I was not aware of, I will be checking in future. thanks for the info.
     
  20. goz1960

    goz1960 Well-Known Member

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    Very useful information, great article.
     

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