In New Zealand the only virus we need to vaccinate rabbits against is Rabbit Haemorrhagic Viral Disease (RHVD) which is also known as Rabbit Calicivirus. RHVD spreads rapidly between rabbits but can also be carried by insects, or brought in on food and clothing. Most rabbits who contract RHVD will show few or no symptoms for the first two to three days and then die suddenly. After death blood is sometimes seen from the nose or mouth, and charactersistic lesions can be seen in the liver and the lungs.
Until a few months ago we only had one strain of this virus in the country: RHVD1. A once yearly vaccination with a vaccine called Cylap, was very effective at preventing this disease. Earlier in the year the RHVD1K5 strain was introduced to help manage the wild rabbit population, Cylap was known to be effective against this strain also. In May this year a third strain, RHVD2 was found in New Zealand. This new strain is not covered by the existing vaccination meaning that we have had to import a different vaccination called Filavac.
Filavac covers all 3 strains of RHVD found in New Zealand and comes in individual doses, meaning that clinics no longer need to book all of their rabbit vaccinations on a particular day. All rabbits that have previously been vaccinated with Cylap will not be protected against the RHVD2 strain and will now need to start an annual vaccination programme with Filavac instead. Rabbits can be vaccinated from ten weeks of age.
Please contact Levin and Horowhenua Vets to discuss your rabbit’s vaccination and health needs.