Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease – A Local Outbreak

An excerpt from Yvette Rowntree BVSc CertAVP (Zoological Medicine) MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon

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We have recently become aware of a local outbreak of RHD2 (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease) in Derbyshire (mainly around the Langley Mill/Ripley area, although it is present all over the UK). This is a serious and often fatal disease that affects rabbits of all ages. Unlike the classic type of RHD, it has a relatively long incubation period (4-9 days) and is more likely to be transmitted between rabbits. There are no definitive signs for this disease, yet affected rabbits may become off colour, lack appetite or sadly pass away.

Although we have seen a few cases where rabbits have sadly passed away, none of these have been in rabbits that have been vaccinated against this disease prior to being exposed to it. Since the news of the outbreak, the Langley Mill practice has chosen to postpone rabbit operations on non-vaccinated rabbits. We advise that all rabbits are vaccinated as soon as possible.

There are two main vaccines that we routinely use for vaccinating rabbits against RHD2 (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease). Your vet will be able to advise the most appropriate one to use.

Please be assured that there have been no cases of transmission of this virus within the clinical setting. We have implemented this addition to our usual stringent biosecurity measures in order to further minimise the risk. We advise owners to keep their rabbits up to date with their vaccinations for RHD1 and Myxomatosis. RHD2 (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease) does not need direct contact with an infected rabbit in order to be transmitted.

We advise vaccination of all pet rabbits, whether kept as house bunnies or outside. Vaccines are available at all our small animal practices. They are also included as part of our VIP Rabbit Club, which is designed to spread the cost of routine rabbit care and also includes preventative treatments. Please contact your local practice for details.


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