RABBIT owners are being warned to be extra vigilant after four animals caught myxomatosis.

Brookfield Veterinary Practice, based in Old Eign Hill, Hereford, fears there might be an outbreak of the severe viral disease in the county after it had to put four rabbits to sleep in the past month.

The disease can cause blindness and is usually spread by biting insects such as fleas and mosquitoes carrying the myxo virus and can cause severe suffering to rabbits that have not been vaccinated.

“Myxomatosis poses a threat to all pet rabbits, but the risk varies depending on whether your rabbit lives inside or outside,” said Becky Bridges, a veterinary nurse at Brookfield.

“Pet rabbits at greatest risk are those living outside, especially if they may have any contact with wild rabbits or hares.

“Rabbit owners who may also have a dog or cat that hunts wild rabbits, or foxes that visit the garden and nose around rabbit hutches, must be particularly careful in case rabbit fleas are brought back to the pet bunny.

“House rabbits living permanently indoors are at less risk than outdoor rabbits, but do get myxomatosis.

“They must be vaccinated and protected from possible sources of myxomatosis transmission too.”