Rabbit Vaccinations are Changing

18th Aug 2020

It is recommended that rabbits are vaccinated yearly against 2 main diseases: Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD).

Both conditions are highly contagious and sadly often fatal, but protection has traditionally been provided with a single yearly vaccination.

In previous years the main strain of RHD that was of concern in the UK was called RHD-1 and is the strain that is included in the traditional vaccination. Recently however a new strain of RHD (RHD-2) has been identified and is thought to be increasingly common.

The clinical signs of RHD-2 are similar to those of RHD-1 and unfortunately it is also almost always fatal. RHD is extremely serious, causing; high fever, internal bleeding and liver disease. It is almost always fatal. RHD is spread through rabbit contact as well as insects, and persists in the environment, e.g. hutches, carriers, clothing, and shoes.

Additional vaccination against RHD-2 is possible and up until now has been given using a separate vaccination alongside the Myxomatosis/RHD-1 vaccine.

Given the increasing importance of RHD-2 we would recommend all bunnies being covered against this disease to minimise their chances of becoming sick, and we are excited to now be able to do this with a new vaccination that combines all 3 (Myxomatosis, RHD-1 and RHD-2) into a single yearly injection. This will allow your bunny to be fully protected with one small volume injection at a single visit minimising stress to your furry friend.

Because of the way the vaccination works to stimulate immunity, if a rabbit has already been vaccinated with the traditional Myxomatosis/RHD-1 vaccine, but has not had a separate vaccine for RHD-2, the immune system may not recognise the RHD-2 portion and create sufficient protective response. Therefore it is advised that these patients should have an RHD-2 vaccination before they can be boosted with the new vaccine.

So what do I need to do to make sure my pet is covered?

  • If your bunny is new to you and has had no vaccinations previously or your bunny has already had the RHD-2 vaccination in the past you don’t need to do anything, when your next vaccination is due the new vaccine can be used as a normal booster.

  • If your bunny has had only the Myxomatosis/RHD-1 vaccination in the past or they are new to you and you are not sure of their vaccination history we would advise booking an appointment when possible to have the RHD-2 vaccination. When you are then next due the normal booster they will be ready to use the new vaccination. To help make this possible we are offering a 20% discount on the price of the RHD-2 vaccination.

  • If you are not sure what vaccinations your bunny has had please contact the practice on 01858462839 and we will be happy to check your records.
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