Unlike RHD which has been present in the UK for decades, a new strain of this disease has been identified in the UK in recent years. This strain is referred to as Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RHD2).
RHD2 has some differences from the classic RHD and the existing RHD vaccine is not thought to be protective against RHD2. However, similarly to RHD, the RHD2 virus is associated with severe internal bleeding, rapid death and can remain active in the environment for a long time.
Luckily, there is a licensed RHD2 vaccine available in the UK now. The initial supply shortages of the vaccine seem to be behind us now which is great news for vets, owners and of course rabbits.
For more information, we recommend speaking to your local Vets4Pets. A vet can discuss the risks and benefits with you before deciding on an appropriate regime and vaccination plan for your rabbit based on local disease conditions. The vaccine can be given annually or every 6 months.
High risk situations for RHD2 include rescue centres and breeders, unless they have a strict quarantine policy, those rabbits which have greater contact with wild rabbits and any geographical location where cases have been reported recently.
We believe RHD1 and Myxomatosis remain the most significant nationwide health threats in rabbits and so protection against these ‘core’ diseases remains a priority but RHD2 is now recommended to be part of this annual core protection for all rabbits.