Rabbits can be vaccinated against myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease from five weeks of age. Both are very serious and rarely treatable diseases and vaccination is highly recommended. Traditionally the vaccinations for these diseases have been required to be given at separate times but there is now a combined annual vaccine available. We send out reminders to help you remember these important check-ups.
Pet rabbits can contract the disease by direct contact with infected wild rabbits or via insect vectors such as cat or rabbit fleas and biting mosquitos.
Myxomatosis was introduced in the UK in 1953 from France and is present in the wild population of rabbits where outbreaks wax and wane according to the influence of the strain and the immune status of the mature population.
Environmental temperature has an effect too, with the disease being more lethal at low temperatures.
Myxomatosis can occur in hares but is rare and usually mild.
The first signs we see are puffy, swollen eyelids, lips and ears progressing to swelling around the anus and genitalia. Within a few days the rabbit will become blind and then, as the disease progresses, unable to eat.
It is possible, on rare occasions, for rabbits to recover from Myxomatosis.
The vaccination contains a virus very similar to that which causes the disease but will not itself cause any ill effects at all.
We advise that all rabbits are vaccinated once a year with a vaccine that also includes the VHD virus.
Rabbits can be vaccinated from 6 weeks of age and the vaccination lasts 12 months.
B) Flea and mosquito control
Keep bedding areas clean and dry to avoid flying insects and use specific hutch disinfectant and insecticides, which, when applied to the woodwork of the hutch will reduce fly and mosquito activity.
Treat any domestic cats for fleas using Advocate Spot-on monthly since the cats may transmit fleas from the wild rabbit population to your pet rabbit.
Use Advantage Spot-on monthly on your rabbit to prevent fleas
Viral Haemmorrhagic Disease (VHD)
This originated in farmed rabbits in China and has now spread into Europe and Scandinavia.
Highly infectious and lethal disease causing death by bleeding.
The virus can live outside the rabbit for long periods, up to 105 days on cloth or materials.
There is a very short incubation time of 3-4 days and rabbits can be found dead within a few hours of eating and breathing normally.
There is very effective vaccination given once a year at the same time as the Myxomatosis vaccination. It can be given from 6 weeks of age and lasts 12 months.