Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV-2)
On October 20, 2021, the Office of the State Veterinarian for South Carolina approved the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Veterinary Biologics’ (USDA CVB) recommendation for emergency use authorization for an unlicensed, experimental Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease
Virus Vaccine Serotype 2.
Because this disease is highly contagious and fatal and is believed to be prevented by proper vaccination EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, WE ARE REQUIRING ALL OF OUR RABBIT PATIENTS TO BE VACCINATED AGAINST RHDV-2 as an integral part of responsible care.
Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) is a highly contagious virus that has been found in rabbits across the USA, and spotted in nearby states. RHDV can cause fatal illness in domestic and wild rabbits, and no treatment has been successful against rabbit hemorrhagic disease. The virus is readily transmitted between a variety of wild animal species (not just rabbits), and the virus is very persistent in the environment unless specific disinfectants are used.
The two best ways to prevent RHDV affecting your rabbits are to vaccinate your rabbits against RHDV and practice strict “biosecurity” measures. Vaccination is the best way to help prevent disease from some strains of RHDV. We are able to vaccinate your rabbit against RHDV, as long as your rabbit is not showing a fever or signs of infectious disease at the time that might interfere with vaccine efficacy, and your rabbit is a resident of SC. We use the Medgene vaccine. For more information about the vaccine please visit: https://medgenelabs.com/rhdv2/
Any rabbit vaccinated against RHDV must be permanently identified. To do this we place a microchip under the skin, usually in between the shoulder blades. The cost is $40 and this is done at the first vaccination appointment. If your rabbit is already microchipped, we will verify its presence and note it on your rabbit’s record.
Biosecurity measures include housing rabbits strictly indoors, protecting them against exposure to flying insects that could carry the virus from outdoors, not feeding them any outdoor greens that have not been disinfected, and housing your rabbits away from all other rabbits. As the virus can be carried on clothing, we recommend changing or disinfecting shoes that have been worn outdoors prior to entering areas where your rabbit may be exposed.
How effective is the vaccine in preventing RHDV-2?
It has been shown to be highly effective.
Will my rabbit infect other rabbits after being vaccinated?
How old does my rabbit need to be to get his vaccine?
4 weeks or older.
How long does it take for the vaccine to be effective?
14 days after the booster injection, which is done 3 weeks after the first vaccination. Annual booster shots will be required for continued immunity.
How effective is a single dose of the vaccine?
At this time it requires a two-dose series 21 days apart and an annual booster for continued immunity.
What side effects should I expect?
A small swelling at the injection site may develop, a slight temporary fever may occur, and your rabbit may be lethargic for a day or two after the injection.
Is it safe for pregnant or nursing does?
A full study of the safety has not yet been completed.
Is it safe for previously vaccinated rabbits to be vaccinated with the new vaccine?
This vaccine has gone through safety testing in accordance to USDA standard. It has been determined safe and approved for use with a two-dose regimen.
What is the cost of the vaccine?
The vaccine is $60. By SC state law we need to have an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship to provide this vaccine, and rabbits must be checked for symptoms or fever prior to receiving the vaccine. The office visit including physical examination with temperature check is $90 and if your rabbit is not yet microchipped the cost of the microchip implantation is $40, for a total of $190 per rabbit. We require each vaccinated rabbit be microchipped at the time of the initial vaccine to ensure proof of vaccination.
What is the cost of the booster vaccine in 3 weeks?
This can be done by one of our Veterinary Assistants under the supervision of one of our veterinarians. The fee for the nurse exam and 30-minute outpatient hospitalization for monitoring is $65, the vaccine is $60, for a total of $125.
How do I schedule a vaccine for my rabbit?
– New clients, or existing clients whose rabbit has not been examined at our clinic a year or more:
visit our website at www.birdsandexotics.com, click on “BOOK NOW” and either use the “Find Your Account” or “Create Account” portal to enter and update your information and select an appointment time. Complete the booking process by processing your booking prepayment by clicking the Secure Online Payment icon on our website (www.birdsandexotics.com). We will contact you after you have completed both steps to confirm your appointment.
– Existing clients whose rabbit has been examined at our clinic in the last 12 months:
If you are an existing client with us, and we have examined your rabbit within the past year, then please first visit our website at www.birdsandexotics.com, click on “BOOK NOW” and use the “Find Your Account” portal to update your information and set up your appointment. If you need assistance, contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 843-216-8387.
Because of the highly contagious and fatal nature of this virus and the ready availability of the RHDV-2 vaccine, we will no longer maintain your rabbit as a patient if your rabbit has not been fully vaccinated against RHDV-2. If your rabbit has been vaccinated elsewhere against RHDV-2, we will require proof of vaccination, vaccination booster, and microchipping at least 30 days prior to your rabbit’s next scheduled appointment, grooming, or boarding. We are instituting this new policy for the protection of not only your rabbit, but for the protection of all rabbits, including in our clinic and in your neighborhood.
More information about RHDV-2 can be found at the following links:
Our exotic animal hospital is dedicated exclusively to the care of birds, exotic small mammals, reptiles, and even fish! We can offer everything your pet needs for a healthy and happy life, from wellness care and grooming to diagnostics and dentistry, but we can also provide emergency care during our opening hours, along with more specialized treatment for referred patients.