Burgess Pet Care has announced that the theme for this year's Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW, 1st-9th June) is Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease type 2 (RVHD2), and vets are being urged to highlight the importance of vaccination to owners.

Burgess reminds everyone that RVHD2 is a highly infectious strain of RVHD with few or no visible symptoms. It is fatal and can kill within hours. RVHD2 poses a significant threat to Britain’s rabbit population and outbreaks have been reported all over the UK and Ireland meaning no area is safe.

According to the company, the most recent sales figures show that only 137,405 RVHD2 vaccinations have been distributed in the last year1. This, says the company, shows a concerning number of practices are still not stocking the necessary vaccines to protect rabbits against RVHD2 and other fatal diseases.

Rabbits who have received the combined vaccination for RVHD and myxomatosis need a separate vaccination for RVHD2.

BSAVA President Sue Paterson said: "The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) supports the Rabbit Awareness Week 'Protect and Prevent' approach to saving the lives of rabbits in the UK. The BSAVA urges all rabbit owners to get their rabbits vaccinated against this disease and encourages all practices to remind their clients of the importance of doing this."

Richard Saunders BVSc DZooMed MRCVS said: "It's important for vets to be aware of the importance of vaccinating rabbits against all 3 viral diseases: Myxomatosis, RVHD1 and RVHD2.

"We certainly don't want rabbits to go without their annual myxomatosis vaccine: this horrible disease is very much still around. RVHD1 appears to have been overtaken by the new variant, RVHD2, but should still be vaccinated against.

"RVHD2 is a recent strain of the RVHD virus, which the Nobivac Myxo-RHD vaccine does not cover, and it is, quite literally, everywhere. Transported by inanimate objects as well as animals, it can affect both indoor and outdoor rabbits anywhere in the UK.

"If you wait until you see the first case in your area before recommending vaccination, rabbits will die, when this could be avoided.

"Remember that rabbit owners are much more likely to bury their dead pets at home than cat and especially dog owners, who generally bring their pets to a vet for cremation, and so we, as a profession, are under-aware of the incidence of the disease out there.

"RVHD2 is a core vaccination requirement, being endemic in the UK. Additionally, it’s not just a fatal disease, it’s a fatal disease with a reservoir in the wild. We strongly recommend vaccination of rabbits with either Filavac or Eravac in addition to Nobivac Myxo-RHD."

For more information on this year’s campaign and to request your RAW veterinary pack with marketing materials and free samples, visit www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk

Reference

  1. IMAP –Sales figures for RVHD2 vaccinations (Mar18-Feb19).  

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