Over the past 2 years medical and press articles have highlighted an emerging threat of RHD2 (VHD-2 or RvHD-2), a variant strain of haemorrhagic diahorrea in rabbits that is rapidly fatal and was not covered by the standard vaccines commonly used in the UK, there have been recent changes that help to give the best cover possible for your rabbit.
Clinical signs are rarely seen due to the dramatic effect of the disease and sudden death is the most reported finding. It is not uncommon for these sudden deaths to not be reported to the practice if owners aren’t requesting post-mortem examination or cremation.
Over the past few years the number of sudden death being reported in the areas local to our practices have been rising and we have had confirmed fatal cases on a semi regular basis. This may be due to the increase in public awareness of disease in rabbits leading to increased testing but our concern is that it most likely reflects an overall increase RHD-2 cases in the area as an endemic disease.
The common vaccine used in rabbits is Myxo-RHD, this gives protection against myxomatosis and the original strain of RHD. We have been offering the new variant RHD-2 for some time now but would like to encourage rabbit owners to speak with our vets regarding RHD-2 and we would urge more owners to vaccinate against this new disease risk. The Myxo-RHD vaccine has ceased production with the advent of a new Myxo-RHD PLUS vaccine which combines all 3 rabbit vaccines into 1 convenient dose.
Rabbits who have previously been vaccinated for Myxomatosis/RHD1 but not RHD2 need to undergo a slightly different vaccination process than rabbits who have previous received no vaccination or the split Myxo-rhd + RHD2 vaccination.
Rabbits who have previously had Myxo-RHD but no RHD2 cover need to start the RHD2 cover seperately from the Myxo-RHD booster this year while Myxo-RHD is still available as a stand alone vaccination, then can use the PLUS vaccine next year. This is due to a concern over the effectiveness of boosting 2 elements while starting a new immunity to RHD2, not due to any safety/reaction concerns.
The vaccines can only be given to healthy rabbits.
For more information on the variant strain RHD2 please go to;
To book an appointment, discuss vaccinations for your rabbits with a vet or for more information on the vaccine and its availability, please contact your nearest practice.