Serological monitoring of the epidemiology of myxoma virus to assess the effects of imposed fertility control of female rabbits on myxomatosis

The epidemiology of myxomatosis was investigated in 12 populations of wild European rabbits at Wellstead in southern Western Australia, which were part of a larger study of the effects of imposing different levels of female sterility on rabbit population dynamics. Using serology, the aims were firstly to monitor the epidemic pattern of myxomatosis on the study sites between 1993 and 1996, and then to determine whether imposed sterility had any influence on the prevalence of myxomatosis. Two patterns of epidemics were observed during the study. The predominant pattern was a spring–summer outbreak that left approximately 90% of rabbits seropositive for myxoma virus antibodies. The second pattern was a slowly spreading epidemic that lasted from autumn until the following spring. This second type of epidemic may be important in the persistence of myxoma virus. Imposed levels of female sterility as high as 80% for three years had no significant effect on the proportion of animals seropositive for myxoma virus antibodies.

Author Kerr, P. J., Twigg, L. E., Silvers, L., Lowe, T. J. and Forrester, R. I.
Year 1998
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 25
Number 2
Pages 123-131
Region WA