Hornchurch vet’s warning after 14 rabbits killed by deadly disease
PUBLISHED: 07:16 22 February 2018
Palmerston Veterinary Group
A veterinary practice is warning rabbit owners to protect their beloved pets after 14 were killed by a deadly disease.
Palmerston Veterinary Group, in Park Lane, Hornchurch, hopes to raise awareness of a virulent new strain of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease called RVHD-2 which killed 14 rabbits in Upminster within just two weeks.
The owner of the rabbits is said to be “heartbroken”.
Vet Karen Snyman said: “We would encourage owners to ensure their rabbits are vaccinated against this strain of the disease.
“Because there have been outbreaks of this disease in the area, we would also advise rabbit owners to put stringent biosecurity measures in place to help reduce the spread as it is highly contagious.
“It can be spread by direct contact with infected rabbits as well as by insects, wildlife and scavengers.
“The virus is very resistant and may also be spread through contamination of clothes or footwear, so if you are walking in woodland or fields, it can be picked up on your boots and you can then potentially bring the infection back to your pet rabbits.
“Owners should make sure they use disinfectant to clean hutches and living areas.
“But the best protection is vaccination, so we would urge owners to make an appointment to ensure their rabbit’s RVHD-2 vaccinations are up to date.”
This highly contagious disease, which can be carried by both wild and domesticated rabbits, is often symptomless, and yet much-loved family pets can endure a horrific death within hours, having suffered haemorrhaging in major organs.
Early signs include a loss of appetite, lethargy, fever and spasms, before rapid death with little warning.
In a bid to tackle this outbreak, Palmerston is offering rabbit owners a 20pc discount on the vaccine until the end of March.
There is no cure for the disease, which has been reported all over the UK, and the only way to protect pets is through a vaccination.
RVHD-2 can affect rabbits of any age and anyone who is worried about their pet should seek veterinary advice.