Well in an extremely unwelcome twist in this whole sorry tale, we’ve only gone and got myxomatosis thrown into the mix now. Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up, it’s like a Christmas episode of Eastenders. So I’m now right back at the beginning of this blog, feeling extremely stressed and having just sat down after sorting everybun out, too tired to think about dinner so having a glass of wine instead.
So I got home from work on Wednesday and Delilah, who is the mum of the litter of babies who were born here, has developed myxomatosis signs during the day. She was vaccinated with the nobivac-myxo at the end of May so in theory should have developed a perfectly good immune response by now. I’ve had a few before where they’ve developed a single nodule, but this looked like full-blown myxi. Very swollen eyes on both sides and a very swollen face. Still munching away like a good’un though. Of course by the time I found her, my vet was already closed, so I rang the emergency vet and they said that they can go downhill very quickly with myxi so advised that I took her in to be seen, which I did. She agreed that it looked very much like classic myxi and advised pts. I’ll be honest, when I was driving her there, I was thinking I was taking her to be pts. But as I got her out on the table, she carried on being the normal, nosey, cheeky Delilah that I know and love, so in spite of the swelling and obvious signs, I didn’t think I could make that decision there and then. So I asked the vet to give her something to keep her comfortable so that I could take her to my normal vet to make that decision the following day.
I woke up at 5am and there she was, staring at me through her swollen eye, begging for more willow. Which of course she was given. Thursday morning she was surprisingly cheerful although more swollen, so I rang and spoke to the VN as soon as the phone line opened, and we agreed that I would see how she fared that day and would take her to see my usual vet at the end of surgery that evening. Partly this was to give her a chance to see how her condition changed throughout the day, and partly because she’s now potentially a carrier of both RHD and myxo, which isn’t exactly what they’d want to have in their surgery first thing in the morning. So the evening arrives. My vet gives her a really thorough look over and we eventually agree that it’s too premature to pts. She seems to have signs of both classic and nodular myxo, so it’s possible that she has developed some level of immune response to the vaccine, even if circumstances (likely RHD2 infection at that point plus having had 7 babies?) meant that she didn’t develop a full, robust response. I think we talked ourselves round in circles a bit – at one point we were both erring towards pts but then by the end of the conversation we’d agreed to give her treatment and see how she goes. For years now I’ve said that if I ever had a bunny develop full-blown myxo, I would rather pts than have them potentially suffer a long and arduous period of illness with poor prognosis. But having now found myself in exactly that situation, it’s not what I’ve done.
So then today after work I thought she was being particularly sneezy and seemed to be finding her breathing a little harder. I dithered. I rang the vet and booked her in to be pts at the end of surgery. Then I watched her for another half hour and while she continued to sneeze intermittently, she perked right up and came to mug me for yet more willow (it’s all she wants to eat right now – and while it’s not the ideal food for a bunny on metacam, hey, I think it’s the least worst option by a long shot). So I cancelled the appointment. And then after another half hour, I decided that she was struggling to breathe more, and that I didn’t want her to end up suffering overnight, so I rang and booked her back in again. I realise that when to pts is a contentious and emotive issue, but I’ve always taken the view that if the prognosis is really poor, I would rather pts a day too early than a day too late.
And then I got to the vets. And she got out onto the table and went around being nosey and alert and interested. Her swellings have developed since yesterday and her temperature is even higher – 41.2 up from the already high 40.7 yesterday. But her ears are forming little nodules which are more indicative of nodular rather than classic myxo. So, having driven there convinced it was time to pts, both vets who saw her said that while it wouldn’t be wrong to pts, they also felt that it was worth continuing with treatment. I’m obviously relieved about this, and reassured that they felt she wasn’t looking too bad for 2 days in (and have seen far worse recover), but I’m still feeling anxious about whether I’m doing the right thing. I don’t want my work to be an influential factor in her fate, but the reality is that I can’t be there watching her 24 hours a day – I do have to go to work, and I fear that she will take a turn while I’m out of the house for a number of hours and hence ends up suffering. And I don’t want her to suffer. So I have really mixed feelings, and I’m really not sure whether I’m doing the right thing or not. But for now we’ll take it day by day, hour by hour. I have no idea how this next, unexpected and unwelcome, blog phase is going to pan out. Every other case study/blog I’ve read of vaccinated bunnies being nursed through myxo happened with the previous myxo vaccine, not with the nobivac myxo-rhd. The experiences and timescales are really helpful to understand, but I don’t know if the development of the illness differs now that the vaccine is actually mxyo based rather than relying on cross immunity. I’d hope that it means that the prognosis is slightly better. Or am I just clutching at straws?
I’ve kept rabbits since 1985 and I have always, always vaccinated. Anyone else remember the myxomatosis vaccine that was available back in the late 1980s? It was a vial of 6 which had to be used within 2 hours. No idea what it was – I just have recollections of the vet gathering lists and then arranging a little mini vaccination clinic. It just feels so blooming unfair that in spite of having always vaccinated every rabbit that comes through my doors ASAP, I’ve now had both UK-endemic diseases crop up here in the space of several weeks. To be clear – I do not see this as proof that vaccination is pointless, as I am sure others will argue. I am glad that I have always vaccinated. I’ve had two nodular myxo cases previously and along with Delilah that’s 3 bunnies who would not have stood a chance, had they not had the vaccine. How many of the other 11 bunnies here right now would have come down with RHD2 if I hadn’t been able to get them all the vaccine ASAP after the first case here? How many cases of myxo/rhd have been completely avoided because the bunnies have always been vaccinated? There may well have been other infections that passed without incident because they already had an immune response.
I’m not sure quite what I’ve done to deserve all this. But it all feels very unlucky, and very unfair. I don’t know what the future holds for Delilah, and I’m scared for her. But I will do my very best to ensure that she is kept comfortable, regardless of what the future holds for her.