The Off Topic Forum

To quote Bill and Ted: "Be excellent to each other"

pet rabbits died suddenly

Hi we had two pet rabbits which were moved a few weeks ago to a separate enclosure within the chicken run. Both appeared fine (eating and drinking as normal) up to last night when one was dead when I went to put in the hutch for the night. Second one was dead this morning. Both were about 2 years old and no marks on either. Any thought on cause of death.

Tom Doyle
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

could they have eaten any hen food?

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

If it was something they ate they would be lethargic but not die straight away.
Sudden death in rabbits with no symtoms is more than likely VHD virus, it's doing its rounds across the country. It's a hemorrhaging of the organs, it's a fast but painful death. There is a mutated airborne strain now, no vaccines for the new strain yet, might have it in UK. Vaccine each year €30 for each rabbit and vaccinate all kits too, kits have an immunity to it for first few weeks of being born,
but will die when near weaning age if not vaccinated. it's a hit or miss disease with them, they will suddenly die or be perfectly fine and healthy with natural immunity, but the survivors may or may not be sterile, a breeders nightmare, I lost 80% of mine a few months ago and none seem to be going into kit.

Stephen Mc Donnell
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Hi pearl. No all food kept separate. Only thing I can think is there are a few rats about. Was wondering if they transmitted something to them . Tom

Tom Doyle
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Hi Stephen. Might be that. Have noticed a drop in numbers of wild rabbits locally over last few weeks. Thanks tom

Tom Doyle
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

The vaccines available in Ireland is for the old strain, so could be useless for the new strain.

Stephen Mc Donnell
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

No problem Tom, it's not nice, but nothing anybody can do to prevent it until they release the new vaccine here. Yes same here, weeks before hand rabbits every where, then when mine got hit I looked around the area and not a wild rabbit to be seen for a few months, they have slowly repopulated around here now.

Stephen Mc Donnell
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

I had a hit of HD a few years ago, wiped out all but 2, the doe and one youngster. Vaccinated then but I have all new animals since. Must look into it. Not aware of this new strain issue.

Susan Mc
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

I found this info;

NEW UK Rabbit Vaccine – RVHD2
January 12, 2016

PLEASE NOTE: new update available here.
RVHD and Myxomatosis are diseases found throughout the UK and can be fatal to un-vaccinated rabbits. Both outdoor AND indoor rabbits are at risk. RVHD in particular is highly infectious and contagious. It is an air borne virus, it can be spread by biting insects (as can Myxo), it can be spread by direct and indirect contact with infected rabbits. For example – if you, your dog or cat has walked on ground where a VHD infected rabbit has been, you can carry it on your clothes or shoes, your other pets can carry it on fur or feet. The virus can survive in the environment for a long time and can survive cold temperatures far better than you might expect.

Current Situation

The following info comes direct from the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund. It was released in a ‘First Alert’ email. This service sends out an email whenever there is an important update in the rabbit world. You can register by emailing and you can join the RWAF here.
“As you may know, over the past year there has been an increasing concern regarding RVHD “new variant 2” becoming a cause of deaths in several outbreaks in the UK. Whilst it has been noted in the UK in research papers (Westcott and Choudhury) for at least 2 years, it has clearly become a significant clinical entity in the past few months.
As a result, the RWAF, with valuable assistance from the APLA, Ann Pocknell (Finn Pathologists), Mark Stidworthy and Daniela Denk (IZVG) and Tariq Abou-Zahr (Great Western Referrals) have been putting together a disease risk assessment.
We (RWAF) have now successfully established an SIC (Special Import Certificate) for a suitable EU member state vaccine, Cunivak RHD, and placed an order for a small number of vaccines to establish an ordering system into the UK.
Vets can order their own supplies from VMD. If they require any further information, they should contact the RWAF at and we will pass on any veterinary queries to our vet, Mr Saunders, but they should be aware that he may be dealing with a high volume of email. A more detailed explanation of the above should be available in Vet Times and Vet Record soon.”
What This Means For Owners.
Firstly – please note that NO emails from owners about this topic will be passed to Dr Saunders. he will be dealing with Vet enquires only due to the high volume of emails.
So for owners – this means you will need to ask your vets to order in the new vaccine which will take a few weeks for them to sort out. The new Cunivak vaccine is NOT a replacement for the current combo vaccine and will need to be given AS WELL AS the Nobivak one. Its important to note that these vaccines CANNOT be given at the same time and need at least a 2 week gap between them.
In total, your rabbit will now require 2 vaccinations (comprising of 3 injections) per year:
1) Nobivak combo – Just one injection covers them for myxomatosis and RHVD1.
2) Cunivak RHVD – 2 injections 3 weeks apart. This covers them against RHVD2.
You need to leave AT LEAST 2 weeks gap between the different types of vaccines. If you can manage to schedule it so that there is a gap of 4-6 months between vaccines then this would mean your rabbit would have a veterinary health check up approx every 6 months. BUT you don’t HAVE to work to this schedule, just make sure there is at least 2 weeks between vaccines.
Please contact your vets and ask them to start the process of ordering in the new Cunivak RHD vaccine. Most vets will not be aware that they can do this as the information has only just been released. But the quicker you contact them, the quicker they can get up to speed and get the vaccines in stock. If your vets are unsure, please advise them to email for more info. As per the RWAF first alert above, this information will be released in veterinary publications in the coming weeks.
If your rabbit is vaccinated with the Nobivak combi vaccine AND the Cunivak vaccine, they will have been vaccinated against Myxo, RHVD1 and RHVD2. As always, no vaccination is 100% effective and it does not mean your pet will not contract the disease. However, it does mean they have a chance to be treated and survive these normally fatal illnesses.

Stephen Mc Donnell
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Bring to vet .he will open up the rabbits and look for signs of illness.
Was there blood from any area like the nose.
Was its stomach swollen.was the ground wet. were they thin

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

Hi hyland. Have buried both. Did notice small amount of blood on this nostrils of one of them

Tom Doyle
Sunday, October 16th, 2016

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