This disease is caused by a type of pox virus which grows best in the skin of rabbits. It was accidentally introduced to the United Kingdom from France, where the disease had been used to control the rabbit population.
Myxomatosis is spread by blood sucking insects. A major insect parasite which transmits the disease in this country is the rabbit flea. There is also strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that mosquitoes transmit myxomatosis in the United Kingdom. Myxomatosis is not easily spread by simple contact between rabbits.
Affected rabbits develop a high fever, swelling around the eyes and go off their food and water. The most common cause of death is pneumonia.