9/21/22: RHDV2 vaccine clinics now available - please call us at (860) 347-8387 for information and to be placed on a waitlist for upcoming vaccine clinics.
Rabbit owners should be made aware of the dangers of rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2), a deadly and contagious disease that has begun spreading throughout the United States.
As of September 2022, RHDV2 has been confirmed in Connecticut. The virus is highly contagious and spreads rapidly among both wild and domestic rabbit populations, and can survive outside a host for several months and be carried on surfaces such as shoes, tires, insects, bedding, food, and more. With an over 90% mortality rate, symptoms can appear very suddenly and there are no medications or treatments to prevent them.
A vaccination for the virus has existed for many years in Europe and other parts of the world, but not in the USA. In October 2021, MedGene, an American vaccine manufacturing company, received emergency authorization from the USDA to offer a vaccine. Connecticut's state veterinarian has approved use of the vaccine. Supplies are very limited as only veterinarians approved by the state can administer these vaccines, including Dr. Sojka from the Avian & Exotics specialty department at Pieper Veterinary. We have already vaccinated over 100 rabbits to prevent them against RHDV2. For more information about getting your rabbit vaccinated, read below:
The RHDV-2 Vaccine Clinic is a two-part clinic that will take place at 730 Randolph Rd in Middletown, CT:
- CT residents only - rabbit owners must provide proof of residency
- Rabbits must attend both days to receive two doses of the vaccine for full immunity
- The state of CT requires vaccinated rabbits be identified by either a microchip or an ear tattoo, which will be performed at the time of the first vaccine
- Rabbits must be 4 weeks of age or older and in good health
- The cost for one rabbit to receive both doses of the RHDV-2 vaccine and microchip identification is $180.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I sign up for Pieper's vaccine clinic?
Please call (860) 347-8387 and let us know you'd like to sign up for the rabbit vaccine clinic and we'll be happy to assist with getting your information for our clinic waitlist. This clinic is by appointment only - supplies are limited, and walk-ins will not be accepted.
Can RHDV2 affect my dog/cat/other animal?
No, the RHDV2 virus is only infectious to rabbits and hares (both wild and domestic). It does not pose a danger to other animals, including cats and dogs. However, other animals can still act as a surface that carries the virus: for example if you have both a pet rabbit and a pet dog, you should not let your dog chase or interact with wild rabbits as the dog could potentially carry the virus back home.
Is the RHDV-2 vaccine safe?
Yes, the vaccine has been found to be both safe and effective during trials in healthy young experimental rabbits. The most common side effects included some cases of slight fever, lethargy, and swelling at the site of the injection, which resolved within 48 hours.
Why does my rabbit need identification after the vaccine?
Because there is currently no test to distinguish vaccinated from unvaccinated animals, the state veterinarian of CT requires that all rabbits have a permanent identifier. This is done by either a microchip (which is also important to have if your rabbit ever gets lost), or a small ear tattoo for farm rabbits. The vaccines will also be noted in your pet's medical records.
My rabbit needs a check-up/nail trim/other problem looked at - can they get that done during the vaccine clinic?
No, the vaccine clinic is only for the RHDV-2 vaccine - no other vaccines, physical examinations, nail trims, or other services will be provided. If your rabbit is unwell, please contact their primary care veterinarian to schedule an appointment, as we cannot vaccinate sick rabbits.
My rabbit doesn't have a primary care veterinarian - can they still attend the vaccine clinic?
Yes, you will be asked for your primary care veterinarian's information when scheduling but all rabbits who live in the state of CT are welcome. If you do have a primary care veterinarian, they will be sent medical records notifying them that your rabbit has been vaccinated.
What are the symptoms of RHDV-2?
Because this disease progresses very quickly, rabbits will often display only minor symptoms or even none at all before sudden death. Some symptoms include fever, lethargy, bleeding, and weakness. There are unfortunately no treatments available, which is why vaccinating your rabbits and being safe about their access to other rabbits is the best thing you can do to help keep them safe and healthy.
How can I protect my rabbits from RHDV-2?
Because this virus is so contagious and can survive for many months on surfaces, it's important to be careful of any potential exposure. Make sure to change or sanitize clothing or shoes if you interact with other rabbits, keep shoes away from your rabbits, do not allow your pets to have contact with wild rabbits or other pets outside your home, sanitize any equipment or cages regularly, and do not feed plants or grasses found outside. If you have a rabbit at home and are bringing home a new rabbit, keep them quarantined from each other for at least 30 days. Your rabbit's veterinarian can provide more guidelines and suggestions based on your rabbit's lifestyle.