RHD2 (aka VHD2) News for Rabbit Owners (Updated 6 Dec 2016)

A new strain of the deadly RHD virus has been discovered in the UK, known as RHD2.  The current combination vaccine for RHD and myxomatosis is not effective against this new strain.  A new vaccine is available, but it requires importing from Europe, and many vets here are yet to order or receive stock (as at July 2016). The current vaccine is still required to give protection against RHD and Myxo. 

At 4 Little Paws Pet Care we are continuing to take all the necessary precautions to protect your rabbits from infection that we usually would, including not using grass runs, using veterinary disinfectants to clean the cabins, not allowing rabbits not from the same home to come into contact with each other, using separate cleaning and feeding utensils. We have also introduced the additional measures of wearing different shoe covers for each cabin (so that we are not treading anything from one cabin to another). We feel shoe covers are a more effective measure than disinfectant foot dips, as the contact time wouldn't be enough for it to be effective and stepping into an enclosure with feet wet with disinfectant isn't ideal.

We would advise our customers to discuss the vaccine with their vet before coming to board with us, as the virus is airborne and can be spread by biting insects it is not possible for us to completely remove the risk, only minimise it.  Once the vaccine is widely available we intend to make it a compulsory vaccine for boarding, along with the current combination vaccine for RHD and Myxomatosis. 

UPDATE: From January 2017 we will insist that all rabbits are vaccinated with the RHD2 vaccine (Filavac) as well as the combination vaccine for myxomatosis and RHD (Nobivac).  Proof must be shown at each visit, and vaccines must be renewed each year.  

The BSAVA now believe that RHD2 is widespread within the UK. However I have checked with my vets (Ark Vets) and they have confirmed they have had no confirmed cases at either of their branches. I am awaiting a response on whether / when they intend to stock the vaccine. The nearest vets I am aware of who have ordered the vaccine are Vets 4 Pets in Chesterfield, but I believe they do not know at this stage exactly when the order will arrive. Meadowbank Vets in Nottinghamshire have also ordered the vaccine, and are willing to place non clients on the waiting list, but again do not know when it will arrive. 

Here are some links to sources of further information:

Information about RHD1 and 2 from Frances Harcourt Brown

Advice from Plymouth Vets on RHD2 vaccination

Webinar on RHD1 & 2 by RWAF vet Richard Saunders

RHD2 Vaccine information from RWAF

RHD2 Update from RWAF

BSAVA Article on RHD2

Map showing vets with the vaccine available

It is worth considering taking extra precautions at home to minimise the risk, including not wearing shoes that you have left the house with when visiting your rabbits. 

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any queries or concerns if you are a current or future customer.

Lauren Kirk
4 Little Paws Pet Care