The good news for rabbit owners is that there is a new vaccination on the market which combines a full 12 months’ protection against Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) within a single injection. This can be done any time from five weeks of age, although it is best to buy young rabbits between 12-16 weeks old. They then require annual boosters to ensure that their immunity to disease stays strong.
Both diseases are killers and there is NO treatment for either of them.
- Fatal disease spread by fleas, biting flies and direct contact with infected rabbits. This means that indoor rabbits are at risk as well as outdoor ones.
- Causes discharge from the eyes and infected rabbits usually go off their food. Puffy swellings around the head, face and genitals develop and rabbits often succumb to pneumonia. They very rarely recover from the disease.
Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)
- Another fatal disease spread by direct contact with infected rabbits or their saliva and nasal secretions. This means that the virus can be spread by birds, feeding bowls and even human clothing, meaning indoor rabbits are susceptible to this disease as well.
- Causes internal bleeding that kills rabbit, but the disease progresses so quickly that it is usually just thought to cause sudden death. Vaccination is very effective at preventing disease.
It’s never too late to start a vaccination programme
If you have an older rabbit, it is not too late to start a vaccination programme and your vet can advise you on this. Older rabbits often have a weaker immune system so it is especially important to give them a helping hand and keep their boosters up to date.