In the last decade a new strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) has become prevalent in the UK. This variant strain is known as RHD-2 and is now responsible for a significant proportion of all RHD cases across the country.
All breeds of rabbit, including both pet and wild rabbits, can be affected by both strains of RHD as well as myxomatosis. Both fatal diseases are endemic to the UK.
Most rabbits affected by RHD die rapidly often without showing obvious clinical signs apart from a short period of dullness and lethargy. If the rabbit does show symptoms, these can include widespread haemorrhages, fever and organ dysfunction before they die.
Myxomatosis causes puffy swellings around the head, face and genitals as well as a high fever. These swellings can be so severe that they can cause blindness. Affected rabbits typically cease eating and drinking and death typically follows within 12 days.
Ultimately, both diseases are typically fatal. The diseases are spread by insects, meaning contact with other rabbits isn’t necessary for disease transmission.
These diseases cannot be cured, only prevented.
We are now able to vaccinate against Myxomatosis and both strains of RHD in a single vaccine.