Warning after spike in deadly rabbit disease flystrike

Sarah Ashlee examines a rabbit for flystrike

Calder Vets is urging rabbit owners to be aware of the deadly disease flystrike after a huge rise in the number of pets being admitted to its branches with the condition.

We’ve seen a spike in admissions for the condition, which is caused by flies laying eggs on rabbits which hatch into maggots.

The maggots then eat into the rabbits’ flesh, which can cause death in a matter of hours.

Veterinary surgeon James Tate said: “Flystrike can occur at any time of the year but is most common during the summer months, when flies are more abundant and temperatures are higher.

“Rabbits with a dirty bottom are more susceptible as flies are attracted to urine and faeces stuck around that area. They are also attracted to wounds or damp fur. Rabbits may have a dirty bottom for a number of reasons, such as diet, obesity, dental issues, arthritis or dirty living conditions.

“If your rabbit is passing soft faeces, urinating more than usual or is unable to keep itself clean, seek veterinary advice. Soiled bedding should be removed and any wounds kept clean and dry.

“It is important to check and clean around your rabbit’s bottom and scent glands daily, especially in the summer as eggs can be laid and hatched into maggots within 24 hours. If you do find maggots on your rabbit, contact your vet immediately, even if it’s at night, as a lot of damage can be carried out in a short space of time.”

Medication is available to prevent eggs hatching into maggots, which can be applied to rabbits every eight to 10 weeks during the summer.