Rabbit Myxomatosis Vaccine

Myxoma virus is now widespread across the Australian environment which places domestic rabbits at risk of infection. There are two vaccinations against myxomatosis, but these are not permitted to be used in Australia.

The government argues that this is because the vaccines are ‘live-virus’ vaccinations, meaning they contain weakened forms of the virus; either the Shope’s fibroma virus or a cell-culture derived strain.  Their concern regarding these vaccines is that the weakened viruses in the vaccine could spread from domestic rabbits to the pest rabbit population, immunising them against myxomatosis.  Since the myxoma virus is still used to control wild rabbit populations in Australia (albeit to a lesser extent than other methods), the vaccine has not been approved for commercial use here until further research has shown that the risk of transmission of the weakened virus between animals doesn’t occur. RSPCA Australia has repeatedly called for a review of available myxoma virus vaccines and a scientific assessment of their likely impacts in the Australian setting. We would like to see action taken to ensure that all domestic rabbits can be protected against contracting myxomatosis.


Myxomatosis is a common disease in wild rabbits in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world. This article discusses the use of the myxomatosis vaccination, available in the UK, as a preventative measure against the disease for pet rabbits. Myxomatosis is very contagious and spreads between rabbits via insect vectors such as:

  • Fleas
  • Mosquitoes

Infection can therefore occur without direct contact between rabbits. In the UK, we are lucky to have access to a vaccination against myxomatosis and we recommend to vaccinate every pet rabbit from 6 weeks of age. While being the best protection available, this vaccination is not 100% effective and some vaccinated individuals may still contract the disease. However, vaccinated rabbits which sadly get infected will develop a milder form of the disease and have a greater chance of recovery. Vaccination is contraindicated in pregnant or sick individuals and we recommend that your vet gives your rabbit a good check over before the injection. At the present time, there is only one type of vaccine available against myxomatosis. It is called “Nobivac myxo” from Intervet.

Features of Myxomatosis

  • A virus spread by blood-sucking insects such as fleas, mites or mosquitoes. 
  • Widespread in British wild rabbits. 
  • It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear. Early symptoms include – puffy swellings around the face, ears and or eyes which can cause blindness. The swellings can also affect the anus and or genitals. 
  • This often progresses to a high fever. Eating and drinking becomes increasingly difficult. 
  • Unfortunately, the disease is often fatal with death occurring within 10-14 days. 
  • Occasionally myxomatosis is more prolonged – multiple lumps appear.

Benefits of Rabbit Myxomatosis Vaccine

As a general rule, your rabbit can be vaccinated from seven weeks old with the combined Myxomatosis RHD Plus vaccine and immunity takes three weeks to develop. This vaccination gives protection against the three main rabbit diseases – Myxomatosis, Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 1 (RHD1) and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RHD2). Historically two separate vaccinations were needed, but there is now a single vaccine available.

To keep their immunity topped up rabbits will need a yearly booster vaccination.

If you are not sure if your rabbit has been vaccinated, or you know they have not been vaccinated then getting your rabbit in for their vaccination appointment is a priority. Speak to your vet to discuss your rabbits vaccination plan.

Prices of Rabbit Myxomatosis Vaccine


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