Rabbit owners urged to vaccinate following outbreak of deadly rabbit virus

9 Jul 2019 | Other news, Pet Advice

Here at Quantock Vets we are urging rabbit owners to get their pet bunnies vaccinated to protect them against the outbreak of a deadly rabbit virus strain that has been reported across the UK. 

Rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease type 2 (RVHD2) is highly infectious and can kill rabbits within hours. Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to protect against the disease, but research[1] shows that nearly half a million pet rabbits in the UK didn’t receive a primary course of vaccinations when they were young. 

Dr Richard Saunders BSc (Hons) BVSc MRCVS is one of the UK’s leading rabbit experts and explains that as well as protecting against RVHD2, there are other diseases that rabbit owners must look out for.

“There are three fatal viral diseases amongst our rabbit population, which can be vaccinated against. Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic disease 1 and 2, which kill a high proportion of the rabbits infected, often so quickly that there is no warning before finding them dead; and myxomatosis, which can result in a slow and painful death for rabbits suffering the worst forms of the infection.

“These diseases can be prevented by vaccination and it is absolutely vital to do this even if there haven’t been any outbreaks of these diseases in your area yet. These diseases can spread rapidly and by the time there is an outbreak in your area and your rabbits aren’t vaccinated – it may be too late.”

To help address this issue, we are joining forces with thousands of veterinary practices all over the country to raise awareness of the disease and the importance of vaccinating.

Louise Ash, a Veterinary Surgeon at Quantock Veterinary Hospital explained: “I have seen first hand how outbreaks of this disease (just a stone throw away from this area) can cause mass fatalities in groups of rabbits with next to no symptoms. This disease is very real yet very preventable by yearly vaccination. A course of two vaccines two weeks apart can protect your rabbit from both strains of RHD as well as myxomatosis. In addition your rabbit will get a full health check which is as valuable as the vaccines themselves.”

Rabbits have complicated welfare needs and rabbit owners seeking professional advice about their pets are being encouraged to contact Quantock Veterinary Hospital.

[1] PDSA Animal Wellbeing 2018 Report https://www.pdsa.org.uk/get-involved/our-campaigns/pdsa-animal-wellbeing-report