This is our final week in our series of blogs concentrating on rabbit health. This week is Rabbit
Awareness week so it’s particularly important to highlight the main issues they can suffer from. This
week we focus on Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease also known as RVHD.
What is RVHD?
RVHD or Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is a very contagious viral disease in rabbits which comes
in two strains RVHD1 and RVHD2. These strains are both fatal. RVHD 2 is the newer strain which has
been recognised in the UK since 2013. RVHD1 causes severe internal bleeding rapidly leading to
death. Whilst there may be signs of RVHD1, RVHD2 often causes sudden death without any signs of
illness. Early treatment may be successful but this is rare.
Who does it affect?
RVHD1 and RVHD2 can affect any unvaccinated rabbit who comes into contact with an infected
rabbit or through their urine or faeces. The viruses can live for months in the environment, even
surviving cold weather. Vaccination is the only way to fully protect your rabbit.
What can I do to prevent it?
Vaccination against both strains is very effective. Your vet can advise you of the vaccinations
available. Usually rabbits can be vaccinated from 5 weeks of age. RVHD1 vaccination is an annual
vaccination which is normally combined with the Myxomatosis vaccination. RVHD2 is a separate
vaccination which lasts for 6-12 months.
Disinfection is also very important if there is any chance the rabbit may have the virus or could have
been exposed. Avoid using second hand hutches and always try and gain a history about any new
rabbits entering your environment.
We hope you have found the rabbit health articles useful over the last few weeks and that your
rabbits stay as healthy as possible. Your vet can advise you on any individual queries about your
rabbits and their vaccination needs.