RHDV2 Vaccinations for Rabbits
We are very excited that a vaccine to protect pet rabbits against rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus strain 2 (RHDV) has arrived at Pebble Creek Animal Hospital!
RHDV2 virus is a life-threatening, highly contagious disease that spreads between affected rabbits, carcasses, and even food, clothing, or soil. It can also be spread by insects to some degree.
Symptoms in infected rabbits can start with a fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite with most rabbits quickly becoming severely ill, showing respiratory signs, jaundice, and bleeding from the eyes or nose. Unfortunately, the majority of unvaccinated rabbits die.
The virus was first found in 1984 in China and has since spread to much of Europe and Australia. In March 2020, the virus was found in the western US and unfortunately has spread into the wild rabbit population as well as affecting pet rabbits. We had one isolated outbreak in Florida last year and one new case last month in St. Johns County. There have been reports of infections in Alabama and Georgia this year as well, so this virus poses a threat to the pet rabbit population in our area.
The good news is that last month the USDA approved the emergency use of a RHDV2 vaccine. This vaccine shows excellent protection for rabbits vaccinated twice, 3 weeks apart. The vaccine has been shown to be safe for rabbits 4 weeks of age and older. All rabbits must have permanent identification (ie, a tattoo or microchip) in order to receive the vaccine. If your pet does not have any of these IDs, a microchip can be placed by our staff the same day as the first vaccine.
The vaccine comes in multi dose vials that must be used the same day, so to conserve vaccines and reduce waste, we will vaccinate rabbits a limited number of days per week. Our first vaccination days will be Tuesday, November 16th and Saturday, November 20. Please contact Pebble Creek Animal Hospital at 813-973-8566 to schedule your pet’s vaccination today!