The New Zealand Veterinary Association is encouraging rabbit owners to protect their pets from Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) by vaccinating.

The RHDV1-K5 calicivirus is a Korean variant of the rabbit virus RHDV1. It causes a fatal haemorrhagic disease in the European rabbit.

The NZVA has been advised that RHDV1-K5 will be released in Canterbury, Otago and Marlborough in autumn 2018. It is expected to spread beyond these regions over time.

Pet owners should ensure that they continue to take all available measures to protect their pet rabbits, particularly in areas that are close to populations of wild rabbits.

RHDV1-K5 like other variants of calcivirus infects pet rabbits through contact with diseased wild rabbits, faeces, bedding material and flies.

Pet rabbits should be vaccinated from 10 weeks of age, and boosters given according to your veterinarian’s recommendation. Owners of rabbits that have been previously vaccinated, should ensure that booster vaccines are up-to-date, as annual boosters are required to maintain protection.

In addition to vaccination, we also recommend the following biosecurity measures for pet rabbit owners:

Please speak to your veterinarian for more advice and support.

Source: The New Zealand Veterinary Association