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Vaccinating Rabbits

03/11/2010 Rabbits can be vaccinated against two serious diseases.

Vaccination against myxomatosis should be performed yearly unless you live in a high risk area then 6 monthly is advisable. VHD (viral hemorrhagic disease) vaccination is reccommended yearly also.

Myxomatosis is a viral disease which is spread by biting insects such as fleas and mosquitos. This means that even if your rabbit lives indoors with you and not in a hutch in the garden the disease can still be caught easily. The first signs of problems are swelling around the eyelids, base of the ears and genitals. The rabbit will then become very unwell causing them to stop eating and secondary infection can occur (Pasturella), which will result in conjunctivitis and is generally fatal. There is also a rare myxomatosis which causes swelling in the ears, nose and paws but the rabbits remain well in themselves and the nodules dissapear over time.

To help control the insects which visit your pet while he is in his rabbit house sticky fly traps can be hung in the environment or hutches can be sprayed with a safe insecticide.

VHD is a calici virus which was spread and reached Britain in 1992. Convulsions and nose bleed are serious symptoms which will lead to a rabbit passing. Less accute signs to be aware of are anorexia, breathlessness and generally lethargic behaviour. 

Once the virus is in the body hemorrhages occur in the organs, mainly lungs and kidneys. The virus is spread between rabbits via their nasal secretions so if wild rabbits are frequent visitors to your rabbits cage beware. The virus can also be spread indirectly through insects, birds, rodents people and their clothing. The virus may have been brought to Britain via cross-Channel traffic.

Both vaccines can be given to rabbits of around 10 - 12 weeks of age and cost around £15 each. 


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