Do Rabbits Carry Disease?


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Have you ever worried about the potential for wild animals to transmit infectious diseases? After all, with no one supervising their health, who knows what these adorable creatures could be carrying?

This article will explore the various illnesses associated with rabbits, how they transmit and spread, as well as what safety precautions you can take to protect both yourself and your pet if you or someone close to you owns a rabbit.

Do Rabbits Carry Disease?

Not only can rabbits transmit multiple illnesses to other wild animals, but they also have the potential to trouble humans with unavoidable diseases like myxomatosis, tularemia bacteria, rabies, and E. cuniculi. Therefore, it’s critical that we take precautions to prevent any severe health issues from occurring.

To ensure that illnesses don’t spread, it’s essential to adhere to cleanliness tactics when dealing with an unwell creature. In addition, if you have a pet rabbit, then routine visits to the vet should be scheduled and kept up on time.

Do Wild Rabbits Suffer From More Diseases Than Pet Rabbits?

Without regular veterinary care, immunizations, or an overall healthy condition, wild rabbits are far more susceptible to a wide array of diseases than pet rabbits.

Bunnies are vulnerable to a range of potentially lethal viruses and bacteria, like tularemia and E. cuniculi, that require rapid attention if they become infected. Additionally, those same rabbits can transmit external parasites to humans or other mammals such as guinea pigs.

To ensure optimal health and safety for both people and pets, it’s essential to take preventative hygiene measures when interacting with animals, as well as provide them with the necessary treatments to rid them of these potential diseases. This is especially pertinent when dealing with pet rabbits because they are so prone to catching different illnesses.

How Do Rabbits Get Infected?

Rabbits are susceptible to infections which can be contracted through physical contact with an infected animal, ingestion of polluted food and water, exposure to contaminated objects, or interaction with a person carrying the disease.

Ingestion of bacteria-riddled air, dust from polluted soils, and direct contact with diseased animals can all cause rabbits to become sick. Therefore, if a rabbit does contract an ailment it is essential that the illness be addressed as soon as possible for the best chance at recovery.

What Are the Signs of an Infected Rabbit?

Signs of bacterial Infection in rabbits include,

  • Abrupt shifts in behavior,
  • Fatigue,
  • Unmotivated
  • Slumbering for longer than usual,
  • Unenthused by activities,
  • Reduced hunger or diminished interest in eating,
  • Fever can be a sign of something serious, so if you’re feeling too hot for comfort it’s best to get yourself checked out by your doctor right away,
  • Changing their grooming habits from usual,
  • Receding fur around the eyes, ears, and nose is a common sign of distress among animals.
  • Combating inflammation can be a difficult task, but there are many natural remedies and lifestyle modifications that may help to reduce its symptoms. From dietary changes to physical activity and stress management techniques, small steps toward reducing inflammation can have long-term positive health effects.

You may also endure the devastating effects of a severe respiratory illness.

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Eye discharge
  • Limping
  • Crusting on the skin or nose area

How to Care for Affected Rabbits?

To care for a rabbit that has been diagnosed with an infection, it is vital to provide a clean and comfortable environment. Frequent disinfection of the cage as well as regular replacement of its bedding should be done to ensure maximum comfort and improved health outcomes.

Offering clean water and hay daily is indispensable for your pet’s well-being. Additionally, make sure you find professional medical advice to receive dedicated antibiotics that will treat the rabbit correctly. Moreover, It’s highly recommended that your wear protective gloves while handling a contaminated animal at all times.

Which Contagious Illnesses Have the Potential to Be Fatal in Rabbits if Left Untreated?

Rabbits are particularly vulnerable to some of the most lethal contagious illnesses, including myxomatosis, Herpes Simplex Virus, tularemia or rabbit fever, rabies, snuffles, and E. cuniculi – a combination which can be potentially fatal for these furry friends if left untreated.


Myxomatosis is a rampantly contagious disease caused by the myxoma virus, which can be acquired via mosquito bites, contact with contaminated animals, and coming into contact with infected objects.


  • Unyielding bloating around the eyes, nose, ears, face, and genital area can cause partial or full blindness.
  • Struggling to draw breath caused by inflamed airways.
  • Secondary infections can be extremely dangerous and often occur when the body is already weakened by another illness. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to prevent them, such as washing your hands regularly and getting vaccinated against common diseases.


The HSV virus is a highly contagious illness that can be fatal to rabbits due to their small brain size. In humans, it causes cold sores and fever.

Causes of Spread:

The virus can be spread through contact with a contaminated animal, breathing in aerosols containing the virus, or ingesting infected objects. It is present in rabbits’ respiratory tracts, eyes, ears, and genital regions.


Common symptoms include,

  • Sneezing
  • Eye discharge
  • Nasal discharge
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Lurks in the mouth and nasal passages
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Genital area ulcers


To manage symptoms, we offer antiviral medications that reduce viral load in the body and support overall health with nourishment and hydration.

Tularemia or Rabbit Fever (Bacterium Francisella Tularensis)

Tularemia, often referred to as Rabbit Fever, is a bacterial infection that can cause severe respiratory problems when it spreads to the lungs. In addition, this condition has been deemed a bioterrorist agent because of its capacity for inducing difficulty breathing in individuals.


Its symptoms include,

  • Ulcers on the skin or mouth
  • Swollen and painful lymph glands
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Painful eyes
  • Sore throat.

Cause of Spread

This bacterial infection can be passed from one animal or insect to another, as well as through contaminated water sources. Among humans, the bacteria is spread by direct contact with infected animals, handling them without protection, having an infected tick bite you, and even drinking contaminated liquids. To keep yourself safe from tularemia it’s essential that you protect yourself when in contact with any potentially-infected creature and avoid the consumption of suspicious fluids.


Rabbits are prone to a contagious fungal infection called ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis. This disease is caused by several species of Microsporum and Trichophyton fungi that live in the soil. Thankfully, this condition can be easily treated with antifungal medications prescribed by your veterinarian.


In rabbits, ringworm usually appears as

  • Round patches of alopecia or hair loss.
  • The lesions may be scaly and appear reddened or raised
  • Itchy areas of the skin
  • Dandruff-like scales on the coat
  • Crusting or redness around the eyes and nose area
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing

Causes of Spread

When rabbits come into contact with dirt, bedding, or other animals that possess the fungus, they have a high risk of becoming infected. Additionally, if an individual who is already carrying the infection has a physical touch with a rabbit – directly on their skin or clothing – this can cause transmission as well.


To identify this malady in rabbits, your vet should take tissue samples from the affected area and observe them using a microscope. Depending on the level of damage sustained and the type of lesion visible, treatment could include either topical or oral antifungal medications.


The deadly virus of rabies can be contracted by both humans and mammals, including rabbits. By attacking the host’s central nervous system, this viral infection has the potential to end in an untimely demise if not treated promptly and appropriately.

Cause of Spread

This contagious and potentially life-threatening virus is primarily spread through an infected animal’s saliva via its bite.


Although rabbit bites rarely transmit viruses such as rabies like cat bites, it is still best to speak with a doctor if you have been bitten by one.

Symptoms of rabies:

  • Fever
  • Headache followed by increased aggressiveness
  • Confusion
  • Paralysis which then leads to coma and eventually death

Encephalitozoon Cuniculi (E. cuniculi)

The menacing micro-fungal parasite, known as Myxoma virus, can lead to lethal infections in rabbits and neurological diseases with debilitating paralysis.

Shockingly, this disease can be present in your pet without displaying any obvious symptoms. In addition, it has been documented to spread from contaminated rabbit urine to humans and other mammals like guinea pigs.

Causes of Spread

  • Whenever Wild animals consume food or untreated water contaminated by the urine of an infected rabbit, they are in danger.
  • A mother rabbit can also pass on the virus to her offspring while in utero.
  • Rabbits can spread diseases through contact with other rabbits or objects they’ve touched, such as bedding and toys.


  • It affects the kidneys, eyes, and nervous systems of rabbits.
  • Suspects will not develop clinical signs immediately until they are older.
  • Heavy white plaque
  • Head tilt
  • Seizures
  • Ataxia
  • Paralysis which leads to death


During the incubation period, antifungal medications and antibiotics can be used to effectively treat it.

How Can We Prevent the Spread of Infections in Rabbits?

The most crucial step you can take to protect your rabbit from infection is being proactive and attentive. By frequently checking up on them and contacting a vet at the first sign of illness, you can ensure their safety.

Protecting our animal friends from illness is of the utmost importance; any rabbits infected with contagious diseases should be isolated immediately and contact with wild creatures or previously sickened bunnies must be avoided at all costs.

Ultimately, it is critical to schedule a veterinarian appointment before bringing your new companion home. This way, you can guarantee that the animal does not carry any contagious diseases that could be harmful to your other animals. Doing so will ensure both the safety and health of all members of your family!

What Causes “Snuffles” in Rabbits?

Snuffles is a respiratory disease in rabbits that is caused by the bacteria Pasteurella multocida. This disease is contagious and often causes sneezing, a runny nose, watery eyes, and/or difficulty with breathing.

This particular bacterium is a leading source of canine kennel cough, and can even prompt whooping cough in humans. Unhygienic environments and overcrowding can lead to a higher potential for contamination as well as heightened stress brought on by environmental changes.

How Can One Prevent Snuffles in Rabbits?

To keep your rabbits safe from Snuffles, here are some preventative measures you can take:

  • To guarantee your pet’s health and happiness, never neglect hygiene in its living environment.
  • Regularly clean your feeding and watering utensils to guarantee hygiene and safety.
  • Prior to touching your cherished furry friends, make sure that you thoroughly clean your hands.
  • In order to protect against contagious illnesses, ensure you stay up-to-date on your vaccinations.
  • To ease congestion and decrease anxiety levels, ensure adequate space is available.
  • Give your animals the best chance at a long, healthy life by feeding them high-grade hay every day. This hay is rich in nutrients and will help keep your animals happy and healthy.


To ensure your rabbit stays healthy and disease-free, it is absolutely critical to take preventive measures. We hope this article has given you a better understanding of how bacteria and viruses can affect rabbits adversely.