Rabbit owners warned over threat of deadly disease

CARE: Veterinary nurse Sarah Ashlee with a rabbit at Calder Vets.
CARE: Veterinary nurse Sarah Ashlee with a rabbit at Calder Vets.
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A group of vets is warning 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.

Calder Vets, which has 13 practices across Yorkshire, has seen a spike in admissions for flystrike. It is caused by flies laying eggs on rabbits which hatch into maggots.

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.

“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.”

The vet said rabbit owners should check and clean around the rabbit’s bottom and scent glands daily, especially in summer when eggs can be laid and hatch into maggots within 24 hours.

Mr Tate added: “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.

For more information caldervets.co.uk.