RVHD-2 – the new strain of fatal rabbit disease

rabbit-eatingRabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (RVHD) and Myxomatosis (Myxo) are common diseases found throughout the UK and can be fatal to non-vaccinated rabbits. Both outdoor and indoor rabbits are at risk. RVHD in particular is highly contagious. Not only can it be spread by direct rabbit to rabbit contact, it also can be spread by biting insects (as can Myxo).

RVHD-2

Sadly, there are a few different strains of RVHD where the virus has mutated in slightly different ways and this means that the regular vaccination available in the UK is not guaranteed to cover the different strains. The UK now has both the RVHD-1 and the RVHD-2 strain throughout the country, with hundreds of potential deaths so far and many of these confirmed via veterinary laboratories as RVHD-2. These confirmed cases are not confined to one geographical location.

Although there are still many similarities, RVHD-2 differs from the original RVHD-1 virus in a few ways:

  • It can affect rabbits of ANY age (even under 8 weeks)
  • The mortality rate is more variable (but it is not yet fully understood as to why)
  • It appears that RVHD-2 doesn’t kill as quickly – meaning that a rabbit may seem a bit unwell or have suspected stasis a few days before the death occurs

RVHD-2 vaccinations

Please bring your rabbit in for a full check and we will talk to you about the vaccination protocol.

  • The current vaccine covers both Myxomatosis and RVHD-1. It is vital that this continues to be given every year and can be administered to healthy rabbits from 5 weeks old.
  • We now have the new RVHD-2 vaccine at all 3 of our clinics, so please do not hesitate to book an appointment. The new RVHD vaccine covers both RVHD-1 and RVHD-2 (but does NOT cover Myxomatosis). It can be given to all healthy rabbits over 10 weeks old. This vaccine will be needed once per year.

For further information, please call your local Vet4life or you could join the RWAF as a member.

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Ian Stroud

Ian Stroud

Veterinary Surgeon at Vet4life
Ian Stroud is a highly experienced small animal veterinary surgeon with over 15 years working in practice. He has particular interests in several areas including minimally-invasive surgery, orthopaedics and oncology (cancer treatment). He currently practices in Teddington, Shepperton and Surbiton where he is the director of Vet4life.
Ian Stroud

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