The theme of this year’s Rabbit Awareness Week is RVHD2 – a variant of RVHD1 that can be fatal to our bunnies if they’re not vaccinated against it!
What is RVHD2?
Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 is a new strain of RVHD that first appeared around 4 years ago in 2015. Just like RVHD1, it causes rabbits to suffer internal bleeding and is as good as symptomless in its early stages. When symptoms do occur, they’re easy to mistake for symptoms of other conditions.
How is it transmitted?
The RVHD2 virus is stubborn. In fact, it can survive in its environment for up to 6 months – especially in colder climates. This contradicts what many owners believe: that RVHD can only survive in/on an infected bunny and can therefore only be transmitted directly from rabbit to rabbit. Whilst this is true, the virus can enter your rabbit’s environment in all sorts of other ways:
- From insect or bird droppings
- From the wind
- From the soles of shoes or other pets’ paws
- From car tyres
- From the droppings of other infected rabbits
- From human clothes and hands
As you’ll see from this list, trying to prevent your rabbit coming into contact with RVHD2 is a nigh-on impossible task.
How to tell if my rabbit is infected?
Even in it’s most advanced form, RVHD2 is more or less symptomless. Your rabbit may have a fever, appear lethargic or their personality may seem different but none of these symptoms are exclusive to Viral Haemorrhagic Disease so if you’re suspicious or concerned, always contact us as soon as you possibly can.
Sadly, there’s no known cure for RVHD2. While there are some methods of supportive treatment out there, and while some rabbits do recover, this is very rare. In most cases, RVHD 1 or 2 is fatal to rabbits.
What about prevention?
Now you’re talking!
Thankfully, a simple vaccination and annual booster can drastically lower your bunny’s chances of contracting RVHD 1 or 2. We’ll usually administer these separately – one vaccination against VHD1 and Myxomatosis and a second vaccination designed specifically to prevent RVHD2.
We’ll happily advise on a suitable course of vaccinations and boosters for your bunnies. As an owner, the most important thing you can do is make sure they make all of their appointments!
In the meantime, Happy Rabbit Awareness Week everyone! For further info, don’t hesitate to get in touch.