RHDV2 confirmed – potentially fatal rabbit disease
We have recently had confirmed cases of the new fatal variant of rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) in our practice area. One fully confirmed in the area between Lostwithiel and Liskeard and one in the St Austell area (confirmed but not yet typed). This disease is highly infectious and usually fatal. It can be passed between wild and domestic rabbits. It can also be carried on your hands so even indoor rabbits might be at risk. It only affects rabbits.
If you think your rabbit is already covered by their vaccine then check again
VHD 2 is different to the VHD 1 that we are used to dealing with. To protect your rabbits they need to have been vaccinated with a specific vaccine. The current vaccine that is combined with myxomatosis protection does not cover for RHDV2 – only RHDV1.
- We advise vaccinating against this invariably fatal disease.
- A vaccine to immunise rabbits against both strains (RHDV1 & RHDV2) is available. If they have only had the VHD/Myxo combination in the past they are not covered for the new strain VHD.
- From 10 weeks of age a single vaccination is required.
- It can be given from 4 weeks of age but would need an additional follow-up dose at 10-12 weeks. If owners feel they are at risk then they are advised to start protection as soon as they can.
- The usual duration of immunity from this vaccine is 12 months, but for high risk rabbits (breeding animals & rescue centres) then it would be every 6 months. If you are not sure if they are covered as have vaccines before then ask one of the vets or RVNs to check for you.
- The vaccine takes 7 days to be effective
What about myxomatosis?
We also advise vaccinating against myxomatosis. The vaccine that currently protects against RHDV2 does not cover for myxo – the vet will discuss this with you when you attend for their VHD vaccine.
So what do I need to do now?
If you rabbit is not vaccinated for anything then we advise you booking an appointment to get protected. If they are vaccinated then contact the surgery to see if they are covered for the new strain. During this current outbreak we advise boosting their vaccine if they have not been vaccinated in the last 6 months.