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New strain of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD)

12/12/2017

There have been reports circling all over the UK of a new strain of RVHD  being in existence known as RVHD2.  Recently we have sadly had two confirmed cases of this in pet rabbits seen at The Wheelhouse which very sadly proved fatal.


RVHD 1 is a very nasty and lethal disease. Sadly all un-vaccinated rabbits who catch RVHD1 die within a day or two and the virus can cause massive internal bleeding. Bleeding often appears from their nose. Some may succumb to this disease so rapidly that there may be no outward sign at all, meaning that owners are totally unaware their rabbit is unwell.

RVHD2 is equally as nasty and in most cases still proves fatal although some rabbits have recovered with veterinary care. However, this particular strain of the disease could be considered as being more dangerous than RVHD1.

RVHD2 has a much longer period in which a rabbit can be infectious for, meaning that the disease could spread more widely. This second strain of the disease can also be less easy to recognise because there is often no visible bleeding. Rabbits can be found deceased or unwell without any obvious cause. This of course means that sadly owners are unaware that their pet has an infectious disease resulting in the rabbit not being treated early enough or allowing for precautions to be taken to contain the infection.

How is RVHD2 spread?

RVHD2 & 1 can both be spread by direct contact with infected rabbits as well as indirectly by their urine and faeces.

The virus can also be spread in the following ways:

  • Being blown in the wind
  • Birds or insects can transport the virus in their droppings or on their feet simply by grazing on the same grass area as your rabbit
  • If Hay has been in contact with infected wild rabbits whilst growing in the field
  • You or a pet dog could inadvertently stand on infected wild rabbit droppings and transfer this back on your shoes and paws. The same would apply if you came into contact with an infected rabbit by hand.

Both of these strains survive very well even in the cold, and for many months. All of these points mean that this is a disease that can be brought into your own home environment and passed on to your rabbits with great ease.

The Wheelhouse Vets highly recommend that all pet rabbits be vaccinated against Myxomatosis and both strains of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease in order to give them the very best protection from these awful and often fatal diseases.

We truly believe that vaccination is the only way to keep your pets safe.

If you would like to discuss this disease further or book an appointment for your pet rabbit to be seen for the vaccination then please do either give us a call or pop online to book.