We at the RWAF are aware of a sudden uptick in reported cases of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic disease, mostly from social media. We obviously take this very seriously but need to ensure that we obtain a true and accurate picture of the situation using scientific investigation. We are also talking to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and the manufacturers of the three rabbit vaccine brands in the UK.

We are therefore asking vets with rabbits registered with them that have had suspected RVHD to report the cases so we can gain the most accurate information.

It can often be that situations like this can look worse because some cases are reported more than once by different people, and that some cases turn out not to be RVHD at all. Amongst the cases that are RVHD, it can be possible that the rabbit had not been vaccinated. This can include:

  • the owner simply not vaccinating at all
  • the animal awaiting vaccination
  • the vaccination being out of date
  • a product that does not cover RVHD2
  • A failure in the importing, storage or administration of the vaccine which would result in it being ineffective.

Sadly, many rabbits, being able to hide signs of disease very well, even to the trained eye, may have undiagnosed chronic health issues. For example, it is very common to take blood samples from rabbits and see depressed white blood cell counts, a crude measure of general immune function.

On the other hand, we are also aware that as not all owners will report cases, there can be a degree of UNDER-reporting too.

For these reasons, we are appealing to vets (and owners separately) to help us to help rabbits by taking the time to complete the form below.

Please be as thorough as possible. We will do our best with incomplete information but without key items such as batch numbers, dates or vet/lab confirmed diagnoses, the information will be of very limited value.

Please make sure that this has been reported to the VMD here.

Thank you for your time.