Currently, rabbits are recommended to have two vaccinations a year, however, the release of a new vaccine is going to change things.

What are rabbits vaccinated against?

Currently, your vet should offer two vaccinations for your rabbit. The first protects against myxomatosis and RHD1, and then 2 weeks after this vaccine, they are given the RHD2 vaccine.

What is myxomatosis?

Myxomatosis is a deadly virus that is spread by flying, biting insects or contact with an infected rabbit. It can affect all rabbits, from wild ones to indoor rabbits and spreads quickly. Vaccinated rabbits can still catch the virus, but will have a higher chance of recovering from it, but unvaccinated rabbits won’t survive, so it’s usually kindest to euthanise.

Myxomatosis attacks the eyes, lungs, skin and genitals and after contracting the virus, most rabbits will die after 2 weeks.

Symptoms of myxomatosis are;

  • Milky discharge from their eyes
  • Swollen eyes
  • Swollen genitals
  • Lethargy
  • Swollen face
  • Swollen ears
  • Nasal discharge
  • Ulcers and scabs covering the body
  • Laboured breathing
  • High temperature
  • Difficulty eating and drinking

How can I prevent myxomatosis?

The best way is to have your rabbit vaccinated and to keep their vaccines up to date. You should also take steps to deter flying insects, such as repellents and netting, and ideally remove any ponds or bodies of water that will attract them.

What is RHD1 and RHD2?

RHD stands for Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease and there are two strains.

  • RHD1 is the vaccine that is currently combined with the myxomatosis vaccine. It causes sudden death.
  • RHD2 is the second vaccine your rabbit will receive. It takes 5-10 days to develop and will kill 50% of rabbits who have caught it.

Both RHD1 and RHD2 attacks the rabbit’s vital organs, in particular the liver, and causes haemorrhaging internally.

What are symptoms of RHD1 and RHD2?

  • Eating less
  • Lethargy
  • Blood around the mouth, nose or bottom
  • Sudden death

How do I prevent RHD1 and RHD2?

The only way to prevent RHD1 and RHD2 is to have your rabbit vaccinated.

So what’s the new vaccine?

In April 2020 MSD Animal Health has launched the NOBIVAC Myxo-RHD PLUS vaccine. The new vaccination combines myxomatosis, RHD1 and RHD2 meaning your rabbit will only require one vaccination a year. This makes it easier for owners to keep track of their rabbit’s vaccines, and it’s also less stress to the rabbit as they won’t need multiple vet visits.

It might take a while for the vaccination to filter to all vets around the country, but phone your vet for more information. This new vaccine will be replacing the combined myxomatosis and RHD1 vaccine when all stock has been depleted.

Read how to give your rabbit a health check