Important injections / vaccinations for your rabbits
In the UK there are 2 main deadly diseases that you MUST vaccinate your rabbits against:
(also known as 'Myxi')
Myxomatosis is a severe viral disease that can affect both outdoor and house rabbits. It is spread by biting insects such as fleas, mites and mosquitoes carrying the Myxoma virus, as well as rabbit to rabbit contact.
It is a dreadful disease that causes immense suffering: affected rabbits can take a fortnight to die and treatment is usually futile, which is why euthanasia is usually recommended. Classic myxomatosis starts with runny eyes and in the very early stages can be confused with other causes of conjunctivitis.
An unvaccinated rabbit with this disease will almost certainly die, a vaccinated rabbit can still catch the disease but the difference is that vaccination turns a fatal illness into one that is treatable.
Vaccinations should be done at 6 weeks of age and boosters given every 6-12 months.
(Viral Hemorrhagic Disease)
VHD is a highly contagious viral disease that can kill rabbits within 48 hours of exposure to the virus. It is spread via contaminated beings or objects; car tyres, shoes, wild birds, your pet dog, clothing you've worn somewhere there may be wild rabbits eg. woods, the park, etc.
VHD is often a very swift and sudden killer, giving little warning. Rabbits may die without showing any symptoms at all. Some bleeding from the nose, mouth and rectum is sometimes seen. Any sudden rabbit death is suspicious and should be reported to your veterinarian as a possible case of VHD.
Vaccinations should be done at 10 weeks of age and boosters given every 12 months.
A possible side effect of the VHD injection is a limp which lasts up to a couple of days, this is normal. If your rabbit displays the limp for longer than 2 days speak to your vet.
Myxi and VHD jabs should be given 2 weeks apart in order for the rabbit's immune system to recover.
Keep your bunnies protected and their injections up to date, and ask your friends to do the same for theirs!
These are not the only things you need to protect your bunny against. Please ask your vet for advice on what you should be aware of and if there are any local outbreaks. Other diseases and problems to look out for or research are:
- E. cuniculi
- and others - ask your vet