RVHD2

Protect & Prevent

This year Rabbit Awareness Week is primarily raising awareness around Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RVHD2). RVHD2 is a new variant of RVHD1 and is often fatal.

Many rabbits in the UK are not vaccinated against this deadly disease and are therefore at risk. This year we are asking all rabbit owners in the UK to make sure that their rabbits are vaccinated against this and other fatal diseases.

About RVHD2

Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RVHD2) is a new strain of the virus RVHD1. Cases of the disease were first reported in the UK in 2015. As with RVHD1 the virus causes internal bleeding.

Symptoms

RVHD2 often has no symptoms, meaning that it is very hard to spot early on. Where symptoms do occur these signs are easily confused with other health conditions: fever, lethargy, neurological signs (coma) and blood clotting problems.


Mode of transmission

It is a myth that RVHD2 can only be caught through contact with an infected rabbit. In actual fact the virus can be carried by:

  • Birds and insects and their droppings
  • The wind
  • Soles of shoes, car tyres or other pets’ feet
  • An infected rabbit or their droppings
  • Owners’ hands or clothes

This is just a small section of the list of ways RVHD2 can be carried. Practically, there is no way to stop the virus getting into your rabbits’ indoor or outdoor environment. Therefore, the only way to protect your rabbits is through vaccination.

Prevention

Your vet can vaccinate your rabbits against RVHD2 (this is a separate vaccination to the combined myxomatosis/RVHD1 vaccine). Your vet will then advise what booster vaccinations your rabbit will need (usually every 6-12 months).

Treatment

There is no specific treatment available for RVHD2, though your vet can offer supportive care.

Prognosis

There have been some cases where rabbits have recovered from RVHD2. However, in most cases the disease is fatal.