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Rabbit Vaccinations

What vaccinations do rabbits need?

We advise all domestic rabbits should be vaccinated against RHD-1 and Myxomatosis. Breeding rabbits, show rabbits, rabbits at rescue centres and rabbits that have contact with the public should also be vaccinated against RHD-2. Pet rabbits kept in the back garden have the lowest risk of infection with RHD-2 and the decision to vaccinate should be made on a case by case basis.

When should young rabbits first be vaccinated?

We advise young rabbits have their first vaccination as soon as possible after they are 5 weeks old.

How often are booster vaccinations needed?

Booster vaccinations are required yearly for the combined Myxomatosis and RHD-1 vaccine. We send reminders to help you remember when your rabbit’s vaccines are due. RHD-2 vaccine needs to be boosted every six months.

What are the diseases we vaccinate against?

Myxomatosis is a viral disease which causes an infected rabbit to become depressed, have a temperature and stop eating. It is characterised by swellings and discharges around the eyes, nose and genital areas. Treatment is rarely successful and affected rabbits suffer awfully. There is a much less common skin form of the condition which presents with mild lethargy and lumpy lesions on the skin – these cases can be successfully treated. Myxomatosis is spread by biting insects including fleas and mosquitoes.

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) has been in the press lately following reports of a new strain called RHD-2. The most widespread strain is RHD-1. The RHD virus is extremely hardy and survives for a long time in the environment. It is spread through direct and even in-direct contact –this means the virus can easily be brought into your home or garden on contaminated shoes, food and bedding.

RHD-1 and RHD-2 are different strains of the same virus. RHD-1 is the most common strain and is almost always fatal. Rabbits with RHD-1 sometimes develop bloody diarrhoea but most rabbits are found dead or severely depressed and collapsed. RHD-2 has a lower mortality rate (20%) and a slower course – most rabbits will have a mild illness and then recover.

Hart Vets is currently in the process of importing the RHD-2 vaccine Filavac from France and it will be available towards the end of August 2016. If you are interested in vaccinating your rabbit against RHD-2 please contact us.

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