Does my rabbit need vaccinating?
Rabbits require vaccination to against myxomatosis, Rabbit (Viral) Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) and a new strain of RHD - RHD2 - all of which cause significant illness and potential fatalities to rabbits.
We highly recommend vaccination of all rabbits and can offer combined vaccinations of myxomatosis and RHD in rabbits over 5 weeks of age and a single separate RHD2 vaccine available to rabbits from 10 weeks old.
Since there are no effective treatments for these diseases, annual vaccinations are deemed essential.
How do these diseases affect my rabbit?
Myxomatosis is commonly found in wild rabbits and is spread by fleas, mites and biting flies to our pet bunnies. The disease can cause swellings of the face, ears, eyes and skin which can cause blindness and eventual starvation. Death usually occurs within 10-14 days. Contact with infected rabbits and a persistence in the environment can also result in infection. Recovery from this condition is rare and euthanasia is often the kindest option. Vaccinated rabbits can catch milder forms of the disease often recovering after intensive treatments.
Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD)
This disease is almost always fatal causing internal bleeding, liver problems and intense fever. It is commonly found in the wild rabbit population and spread through rabbit to rabbit contact or exposure to the virus in the environment (eg. clothing, shoes, infected bedding).
Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RHD2)
This strain of RHD has been reported in the UK since 2013. Though the mortality rate of this strain is lower than with RHD often the only sign of illness seen is sudden death. It is spread in much the same way as RHD.
How can I prevent these diseases and protect my rabbit?
We recommend the following to help protect rabbits from these serious diseases:
- Regular vaccination throughout the life of your rabbit
- Reduce disease transmission through insect control (insect screens on housing, flea and mite treatments)
- Regular cleaning and disinfection of housing, frequent bedding changes, disinfection of feed and water bowls using rabbit safe disinfectants
- Avoid using housing/bedding/feed bowls from rabbits which may be infected with RHD/myxomatosis or have been previously
- Limit contact with wild rabbits or infected pet rabbits and access to environments in which they have been
Please speak to one of our vets regarding parasite treatments and vaccinations required by your rabbit