Although it is rare, some people can be very allergic to rabbits. This can be an occupational hazard if you work in a laboratory and need to handle them often. Warning signs of an allergy to rabbits vary and not everyone allergic to rabbits will have the same reaction. Depending upon the presence of other allergens, it is possible that the animal itself may not be the main cause, so it is important to know what types of reactions exist to see if there is a connection to a reaction you are presently having.
When inhaled, the rabbit's urine, saliva, serum or hair can cause hay fever or allergic rhinitis, which includes mild to severe symptoms such as asthma, wheezing, sneezing and runny nose. People who experience these symptoms may also experience an itchy and sometimes sore throat due to inflammation, along with the ears popping or feeling clogged. Nasal polyps are commonly visible during a reaction, and allergic shiners, also known as dark circles under the eyes, can appear more prominent.
More commonly known as 'pink eye', allergic conjunctivitis is characterised by itchy, swollen lids, reddened eyes and even a slight discharge. During this reaction, your eyes may tear a lot, causing blurred vision. This condition appears very similar to viral conjunctivitis, which in some cases can be very serious so be sure to see a doctor for a professional diagnosis.
Eczema is any skin reaction to an allergen. Also known specifically as contact dermatitis, it can occur anywhere on the body that has come into contact with the hair, saliva, serum or urine of the rabbit. The rashes start out with reddened skin, with a large area of tiny bumps known as hives, which can thicken into coin-shaped or larger plaques, which flake and are extremely itchy. Itching causes the allergens that are already present to spread and worsen; in severe reactions, the plaques will contain tiny blisters filled with a clear to yellow pus.
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction and is very rare but can happen within minutes. Anaphylactic shock is characterised by a funny, scratchy feeling in the throat, nausea, gastrointestinal problems and extreme hives suddenly breaking out throughout the body and scalp. Heart palpitations along with profuse sweating, reddening of the face and neck and extreme anxiety or panic can also be present. If anaphylaxis is suspected, a trip to the emergency room is crucial for immediate treatment.