REPORTS of rabbits suffering from a fatal disease have raised alarm among families and pet owners in the Dursley area. 

Myxomatosis has reportedly been spotted in wild rabbits around fields near Cam Peak and Box Road.

Many of the animals have been found dead. 

Myxomatosis is a highly contagious viral disease in rabbits that is usually fatal and is spread by insects such as mosquitos.

Lots of wild rabbits have developed immunity to the disease, but this is not true for pet rabbits with vaccination being the only way to mitigate the virus.

Concerned Dursley resident Matt Nicholson said: “It’s quite a big problem around Cam Peak and near the train station. 

“We need to spread the word. If people are not careful their pets could be affected by this and people need to know. 

“Rabbits are everywhere in the area, in back gardens and in the countryside. 

“It just goes round and round with the different authorities, I’ve spoken to the RSPCA and Stroud District Council. 

“It’s wild animals, what can they do about it? 

“The fact of the matter is, people in the Dursley area need to get their pet rabbits vaccinated or they could be euthanised.”

The Gazette contacted veterinary practise Vale Vets, the RSPCA and Stroud District Council, all of which were unable to officially confirm whether rates of the disease were on the rise in the Cam and Dursley area.

However, all organisations have encouraged families to get pet rabbits vaccinated. 

Gazette Series: Myxomatosis has reportedly been spotted in wild rabbits around fields in Cam Myxomatosis has reportedly been spotted in wild rabbits around fields in Cam (Image: PA / Newsquest)

"Keep your bunny safe"

Dave Tweedle is the clinical board chairman of My Family Vets, a network of veterinary practices that includes Dursley-based Vale Vets.

He said: “Vaccination against Myxomatosis is essential in order to keep your bunny safe. 

“You should ensure that your rabbit stays up to date with their vaccinations at all times and with no exceptions. 

“Myxomatosis in rabbits doesn’t always manifest itself as soon as they become infected with it – which makes preventative vaccinations all the more important.”

A Stroud District Council spokesperson said: “Myxomatosis is a severe, usually fatal, viral disease that can be passed from wild to domestic rabbits through either direct contact, or via biting insects such as fleas, ticks, mites and mosquitos. 

“It’s a nasty virus that attacks a rabbit’s skin, eyes, lungs, liver and genitals and can leave them prone to other infections.  

“It can be prevented or rendered less harmful by annual vaccination of your rabbit.”

RSPCA warning 

An RSPCA spokesperson said: “This suspected outbreak of Myxomatosis shows why vaccinations against awful diseases like this are so important in protecting our pets. 

“Myxomatosis is a highly infectious and fatal disease which can affect both domestic and wild rabbits. It can be spread by fleas, mites and biting flies such as mosquitoes, as well as direct contact between infected animals.

"The symptoms include lesions on the head or body, swelling around the lips, nose, eyes and ears, runny eyes and severe conjunctivitis which can lead to blindness.

“The disease is widespread in wild rabbits in the UK and sadly there's no treatment or cure for it, so euthanasia is the only option for infected animals.

"Pet rabbits, however, can be easily vaccinated from five-weeks-old to prevent them from getting this awful disease and the RSPCA always recommends that owners take this course of action.

“Any suffering wild rabbit that can be contained should be taken to the nearest vet. In the earlier stages of the disease, rabbits with myxomatosis may remain quite mobile and will evade any attempts to capture.

"However, deterioration may later mean they can be caught, and we would advise people to monitor the situation on a daily basis. 

"When confining the rabbit please remember to wear thick gloves at all times and wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the animal.

"You can find more advice about handling and transporting wild rabbits on the RSPCA’s website:”

Symptoms of Myxomatosis 

Myxomatosis symptom advice issued by My Family Vets on behalf of Vale Vets:

When symptoms occur, your rabbit is likely to have had the disease for a number of days. 

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling, redness and ulcers – mainly around the eyes, nose and genitals
  • Discharge from the eyes and nose
  • Blindness – a consequence of inflammation of the eyes
  • Breathing problems
  • Lack of appetite and neglecting food – watch out for uneaten food
  • Weakness, lethargy or a general state of depression

For more information about Myxomatosis see -

You can book vaccinations with Vale Vets, here -