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What do you know about the white spots on the rabbits liver and surrounding area? We are noticing much of this in my area.

The cottontail rabbit is important as a game animal across its entire range. In the United States, deer are the only game more pursued by hunters than the rabbit or hare. In Nebraska more pheasants, quail and doves are harvested each year than cottontails, which may indicate that rabbits are an under utilized resource. Since the mid-1980s an average of 150,000 cottontails have been taken by approximately 26,000 hunters each year. Unfortunately, many rabbit carcasses are needlessly discarded by hunters each year due to the presence of two parasites which do not affect man. The larvae of botflies (commonly called warbles) are sometimes found under a rabbit's skin. If the hunter encounters a warble in a rabbit or finds an abscess under the skin where a warble has recently left the rabbit, he can remove that area of the meat and still use the rest of the carcass, provided the meat is cooked properly.

Tapeworm cysts are also found in rabbits. These are sacs of clear fluid that contain small white floating objects and are found attached to the rabbit's liver, intestines and occasionally to its lungs. These cysts are the larval stage in the life cycle of the dog tapeworm. If a dog or wild canine consumes one of these larvae it may develop into a tapeworm, but tapeworms do not develop in humans from these larvae. All of the larvae are normally removed when the rabbit is dressed. Any overlooked cysts are destroyed during the cooking process. This disease is often confused with "white spots on the liver" that are known to be indicative of Tularemia.

Tularemia is a bacterial disease of rabbits that is transmittable to man, usually through openings in the skin. Hunters who notice small white or yellow spots on the surface of the rabbit's liver when they are field dressing it should discard the entire rabbit immediately. During the early stages of the disease the liver can appear normal, though the infected rabbit may behave oddly, move slowly or be easily captured. It is a good idea to wear rubber gloves when dressing a rabbit and it is important to always cook rabbit meat thoroughly. Tularemia is transmitted between rabbits by fleas and ticks. Rabbits die from the disease, so it is not a problem once there has been a good hard frost and the temperature remains cool. A hard frost kills ticks and fleas which carry the disease, and a rabbit infected prior to the freeze will normally die within a few days of contracting the disease.

Offered by Matt.