Rabbits can currently (March 2017) be vaccinated against the deadly calicirus with the Cylap vaccine to prevent RHD (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease. This was first released into Australia in 1995, and the disease damages internal organs such as liver and intestines as well as causing bleeding.
Signs of disease:
Fever, restlessness, lethargy, poor appetite, bleeding from nose - blood often found on cage flooring. Some rabbits die suddenly without showing any signs of illness.
Contact a vet immediately if you see any of these symptoms as although there is no remedy, rabbits can be given supportive therapy. Unfortunately the death rate is very high in unvaccinated bunnies and many will die within 48 hours of symptoms.
How can I reduce the risk of my rabbit getting RHD?
1. Ideally, keep your fully vaccinated bunny indoors
2. Rabbit-proof your garden to stop contact with wild rabbits
3. Regularly clean cages, bowls, etc with 10% bleach
4. Limit contact with other unfamiliar pet rabbits (decontaminate hands, clothes, shoes if you do handle other unfamiliar rabbits)
5. Control rabbit fleas (apply off - label Advantix - see our Rabbit Club)
6. Control insects (flies and mosquitoes) - flyscreen cages.
7. Remove uneaten food and clean up toileting areas daily.
- Kittens: 4, 8, 12 weeks of age, then 6 monthly for life.
- Adults: 2 vaccinations 1 month apart, then 6 monthly for life.
Note - This is current advice from the Australian Veterinary Association (March 2017), and is off-label advice as the Cylap vaccine is only regisitered for annual vaccination and only for RHDV1(calicivirus) and not the other strains.