5 Dangerous Diseases of Rabbit That Will Affect Humans

Dear fellow animal lovers! Who doesn’t want a happy and healthy animal? Remember, a happy animal makes a happy owner and vice versa. Other reasons why you should taking care of your animal friends well-being is because your health will also likely be affected by them. 

Have you heard of zoonosis? It is a term for diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals, such as Leptospirosis from rodents and Orf from goats. Anyone, including healthy people, can become sick from zoonotic diseases. However, some people such as children younger than 5, adult older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems may be more at risk. These people are susceptible than others to get really sick, and even die, from infection with certain diseases.

Rabbits are no exception from this. Whether you raise rabbits for pets or commercial purposes, knowing what diseases that might be passed to humans are important to prevent them from happening, or at least, to treat them. Well, without further ado, here are 5 dangerous diseases of rabbit that will affect humans.

  • Tularemia

Also known as rabbit fever, this disease is caused by bacteria Francisella tularensis. You can get infected through direct contact with infected rabbits, inhalation of dried animal matter, eating undercooked meat, skinning or dressing killed rabbits, as well as drinking water contaminated with rabbits carcasses. 

Tularemia has influenza-like symptoms such as fever, aches, and fatigue, and headache. A nonspecific rash may also occur. Note that the fever may be high and will go away for a short time only to return. If you leave it untreated, the fever usually lasts about four weeks. Some other symptoms vary, depending on the type of tularemia. 

  • Pasteurella

Pasteurella multocida is a common cause of the chronic respiratory illness causing sneezing and nasal discharge or so-called “snuffles” in rabbits. This pathogen can cause respiratory infections in humans that transmitted from an infected rabbit and the most likely way for people to develop pasteurellosis is in the form of an infected bite wound.

However, it is quite unusual for rabbit bites to spread infection at all; bites from a herbivore animal like a rabbit is less risky than omnivore and carnivore animal like a cat. Plus, rabbits’ teeth are chisel-shaped, making rabbit bite wounds are wider at the top than the bottom, which encourages healthy healing. Nevertheless, you want to clean any bite or scratch thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible and ensure that tetanus immunizations are up to date.

  • Septimetic plague

It is one of the three main forms of plague caused by Yersinia pestis, a gram-negative species of bacterium. Bacterial endotoxins of Yersinia pestis can cause disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), a condition where tiny blood clots form throughout the body. The septicemic plague is a life-threatening infection of the blood. 

This disease may be transmitted through an opening in the skin or by inhaling infectious droplets of moisture like mucus from your rabbit. That’s why you may want to refrain from handling a rabbit when you have an open wound in your hands.

Symptoms from this disease are abdominal pain, bleeding under the skin due to blood clotting problems, bleeding from mouth, nose or rectum, diarrhea, fever, chills, low blood pressure, nausea, organ failure, vomiting, shock, death of tissue (gangrene) causing blackening in extremities, mostly fingers, toes, and nose, as well as difficulty breathing. However, the septicemic plague may cause death before any symptoms occur making it one of the most dangerous diseases of rabbit that will affect human. Plus, the above symptoms are also common to many human illnesses and are not considered diagnostic of any form of plague.

  • Rabies

You may already familiar with rabies and mostly relate it with dogs. Rabies is a viral infection of the nervous system which is almost always fatal once clinical signs appear. Rabies is caused by some viruses that can be passed when the saliva of an infected animal comes in contact with a wound like a bite or scratch or mucous membranes, such as eyes, nose, and mouth.

Rabbits are rarely infected by rabid animals because they usually killed if they are bitten, but rabbits can be infected by bats. However, rabbits also can be infected when they are partially protected in an enclosure and survive the attack by larger rabid animals. Although confirmed cases of rabid rabbits biting humans have not been reported, post-exposure prevention has been recommended in some cases following non-bite contact with rabid rabbits in some states. 

  • Ringworm

Despite the name, it is is actually a fungal infection that often forms a ring-shaped rash, not a real worm. For your information, this infection can be passed from rabbit to human, and vice-versa.

If your rabbit has ringworm, you will see dry, scaly, patchy areas of hair loss. In many cases, the lesions will first be present on your rabbit’s head, legs, and feet then may spread to other parts of their body and can turn reddish in color. Usually, these areas will be itchy. But refrain your rabbit from scratching these areas because it could lead to more skin trauma and secondary bacterial infection. The symptoms are reddish lesions, hair loss, also dry and scaly patches on the skin.

Humans and rabbits can catch ringworm from touching infected rabbits or touching their bedding, grooming items, etc. Note that rabbits in the overcrowded environment and areas with high humidity, where there is poor sanitation, or where they are not receiving good nutrition will be more likely to develop ringworm. 

In the end, always wash your hands thoroughly with clean water and soap is the best way to prevent these 5 dangerous diseases. Your rabbits’ cleanliness, from their body, cage, food, and surrounding is also crucial. Check if your rabbits need some vaccination that could avoid any disease at all and take them to the vet regularly. We sincerely wish for your rabbits’ healthiness and yours, too!