Vets have been warned to look out for a new strain of rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD) that can kill in hours.

Ian Hopkins
Ian Hopkins tends to lionhead rabbit Nala.

The new strain, known as VHD2, causes rabbits to haemorrhage in major organs. It can be carried by wild and domestic rabbits, and is often symptomless; however, once infected, rabbits can die in hours.

In a warning to vets, Ian Hopkins, head vet at Holly House Veterinary Surgery in Cheshire, part of Willows Veterinary Group, said: ”The problem with the disease is it is invariably fatal; it can cause bleeding from orifices and death may occur without any clinical signs.”

Incidence unknown

Another issue is vets don’t know the true incidence of the problem in the UK. Because wild rabbits infected by VHD2 tend to die in burrows and pet rabbits die at home, vets are often denied the chance to see the carcase or conduct a postmortem to establish the causes. However, at least one case has been confirmed in Cheshire after a postmortem.

Mr Hopkins said: “We also know of at least one more suspected case, for which we are awaiting lab results.”

Vaccine resistance

A VHD vaccine is given routinely annually; however, Mr Hopkins said the concern was VDH2 is resistant to it.

A VHD2 vaccine – Filavac – is available from Europe under a special import certificate, although Mr Hopkins said protection only lasts six months.

View your activity >

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar

wpDiscuz

related content

Byre Vets in Werrington, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire is the latest to be added to a network of practices located in the nearby towns of Oundle, Thrapston, Corby and Stamford.

4 mins

Vets and VNs can play their part in improving rabbit welfare in clinics by taking part in an online study from the University of Bristol.

3 mins

Talking about money with clients is not always a part of the job veterinary professionals enjoy. Here, Stewart Halperin gives his top tips for helping your team take the pain out of asking for payment.

23 mins

Vicky Robinson discusses why it's important to see beyond the obvious ‘cute factor’ and recognise the significant clinical and commercial factors implicit in the arrival of a new puppy or kitten.

19 mins

Sara Pedersen runs through full treatment options and prevention strategies – and outlines best foot-bathing practices.

24 mins

A popular treatment for atopic dermatitis in dogs has now been licensed for the symptomatic treatment of chronic allergic dermatitis in cats.

3 mins