There is a new health risk to rabbits in Missouri. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Diarrhea (RHD) has spread to the US from Europe. The disease causes rapid death within 24 hours in most infected rabbits. A very low number will survive the disease and then become carriers of the virus to continue the disease spreading process. The disease is now in the wild rabbit population in the US, which spills over into pets rabbits by fomites. Fomites are people which can carry the virus on our shoes, clothing, and other inanimate objects. RHD has been seen in all states surrounding Missouri. Check out our post on RHD here.
There is a vaccine used routinely in Europe for protection from RHD. The Missouri State Veterinarian has approved the vaccine in Missouri since the disease is looming in adjacent states. While RHD has not yet been reported in Missouri, we suspect it is already in the state. Wild and pet rabbits die quickly without symptoms so it often goes unrecognized and unreported. The vaccine requires 2 doses three weeks apart with annual boosters. There are not any reported reactions to the vaccine except for a rabbit being sluggish for a bit afterward, and only occasionally.
High risk and rapid death are not desirable in our pet rabbit population. Therefore, our recommendation is preventive vaccination. The cost of the the vaccine is $43.50. If your rabbit has had a examination within the last six months, you may schedule an appointment for one of our technicians to administer the vaccine. If it has been more than six months, then a doctor’s exam will be required before receiving the vaccine.