Rabbits are at risk from two viruses Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD, also known as VHD). Both can be fatal with fairly short incubation periods. All breeds, domestic and wild rabbit can be affected. Outdoor rabbits are at a higher risk but indoor rabbits can still be affected, so vaccination is vital.
Myxomatosis causes swelling to eyes, lips, ears, anus and genitals, this becomes so severe that eating and drinking becomes more difficult and death will usually follow within 12-14 days. Transmission is by blood sucking insects like the rabbit flea and mosquitoes, and also close direct contact between rabbits. Myxomatosis is still widespread throughout the wild rabbit population.
RHD usually progresses very rapildly with few obvious clinical signs and is fatal within 36 hours. Transmission is via direct contact with infected rabbits and insects. The virus is shed in urine, faeces and respiratory secretions. A new strain of viral haemorrhagic disease has been identified in the UK, know as RHD2, this emerging strain kills slowly, has a mortality rate between 20 and 50 per cent and also kills baby rabbits.
There is now a combined annual vaccination for rabbits that will protect against both diseases which can be administered from 5 weeks of age. We offer a full health check at the time of vaccination.
There is now a vaccination available for the RVHD2, this does require a special import certificate to allow us to stock it for our rabbit owners. We strongly recommend vaccinating against both strains of the RVHD and also Myxomatosis, the vaccine protocol is to administer the combined vaccine (RVHD1 & Myxomatosis) 2 weeks apart from the RVHD2.
Please contact the surgery for more advice or to make an appointment