There are two main infectious diseases seen in rabbits which we can vaccinate against. The first is myxomatosis and the second is viral haemorrhagic disease(vhd), also called rabbit haemorrhagic disease (rhd). Both are caused by viruses and both can kill rabbits.
Myxomatosis is rife within he wild rabbit population and you might have seen the disorientated rabbits with swollen eyes on the side of the road. This disease causes a lot of suffering and rabbits usually need to be put to sleep to stop them suffering. Rabbit haemorrhagic disease on the other hand causes a sudden deterioration, often they are put to bed seeming fine and are either found dead the next morning or found extremely ill and collapsed, progressing rapidly to death. Sometimes there is evidence of bleeding but not always. In recent years a new form of rhd has been seen in this country which has been called rhd2.
Myxomatosis is spread by fleas, flies and mosquitos. Rhd can also be spread by insects as well as contaminated vegetables, hay etc,or by contact with infected rabbits, on food bowls or bedding or brought in on people’s shoes or clothing. So this means no rabbit is safe, even those kept completely indoors are still at risk.
The good news is that there are vaccinations to prevent these diseases. We have a combined vaccination which protects against myxomatosis and rhd1 and there are two different brands of vaccination to protect against rhd2. There should be at least a two week gap between the vaccinations so it means two visits to your vet to provide protection for a year.