Your rabbits should be vaccinated every year against two disease; Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. These are both very serious, are often fatal and have no cure, so vaccination is essential!
There is now a combined vaccine that covers both Myxomatosis and VHD, which gives a full year of protection. It only requires a single injection to get it up and running, unlike cat and dog vaccinations which need two. It can be given from 8 weeks of age.
- Myxomatosis is a virus which causes a nasty upper respiratory infection. Rabbits get runny noses, sticky eye discharge, which can be so thick they cannot see, and swelling around the head and face.
- It is spread by fleas or other biting insects, which pass it from the wild rabbit population to pet rabbits. For more advice on treating fleas on rabbits, click here
- Vaccination against myxomatosis can be given from 6 weeks of age but more usually is given at 12 weeks.
- Rabbits are vaccinated every 6 months if they are in a high risk area, such as in rural gardens or there are wild rabbits near where they live, or every 12 months if the risk is lower.
- About 10% of the vaccination is given intra-dermally, which means in the skin rather than under the skin (subcutaneously). This is so that the rabbit’s immune system will respond correctly and give the highest level of protection. After vaccination, your rabbit may develop a lump where this was done but it will go down in a few days.
- Treating a rabbit with Myxomatosis is very difficult, they need high levels of intensive care and often do not survive anyway. Prevention is much better than cure!
This rabbit has very runny and sore eyes, typical of a Myxomatosis infection.
Viral Haemorrhagic disease (VHD)
- VHD is a nasty virus which is almost 100% fatal. Infected rabbits develop high temperatures, refuse to eat, bleed from the nose, have internal bleeding and can even fit.
- VHD is spread by direct contact between rabbits and also via indirect contact such as from people, bedding, shoes ect. Therefore both indoor and outdoor rabbits are at risk.
- Vaccination is very successful and can be given from 12-14 weeks of age and needs to be boosted every year.
- VHD is almost always fatal and there is no cure. If a rabbit does survive it will be infectious to others.
Rabbit vaccination is easy, quick and your rabbit will hardly feel it! They will have protection against these nasty diseases. Remember PREVENTION IS THE ONLY CURE!
Please note, this is an advice only website. If you have any specific queries about your pet, you should contact your vet.