Vets in Yorkshire issue warning about deadly rabbit disease

Veterinary nurse Sarah Ashlee tends to a rabbit at Calder Vets Dewsbury practice
Veterinary nurse Sarah Ashlee tends to a rabbit at Calder Vets Dewsbury practice

Vets in Yorkshire are alerting rabbit owners to the vital importance of getting their bunnies vaccinated against a fatal disease.

This year’s Rabbit Awareness Week, which now running until June 9, is focusing on the deadly risk posed to rabbits from Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (VHD 2).

Calder Vets, which has 13 practices across the county, wants to make people more aware of the disease, which is highly infectious and causes uncontrollable haemorrhages in one or more parts of the body.

There are two types of the disease, which can cause death within hours of the animal falling ill. Cases of VHD 2, which is the newer strain of the disease, were first confirmed in Yorkshire last summer.

Ben Lord, lead vet at Calder’s Dewsbury animal hospital, said: “The virus often has no symptoms, meaning it is very hard to spot early on. Where symptoms do occur, these signs are easily confused with other health conditions.

“As well as being transmitted through a rabbit which already has the infection, it can be carried by birds and insects, soles of shoes, car tyres, other pets’ feet, the wind and owners’ hands and clothing.

“The standard VHD vaccination, which is combined with myxomatosis, only protects against one strain of the disease so it is vitally important that owners make sure their rabbits are also vaccinated against this newer strain.

“The disease can be transmitted so easily, even to rabbits who live indoors, so we urge all owners to get in touch with us as soon as possible to make sure their pets have as much protection as possible against this horrific disease.

“Sadly, there are very few cases of rabbits surviving VHD 2.”

For more information on Rabbit Awareness Week 2019, visit www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk. For more information about Calder Vets, visit www.caldervets.co.uk.