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Deadly rabbit disease confirmed

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THE first cases of a potentially lethal viral disease which affects both domestic and wild rabbits have been officially confirmed in Jersey.

Jeremy Miller

Two cases have been confirmed by New Era Vets. The organisation, along with another practice, has warned that the usual yearly rabbit vaccination does not protect against this strain of disease.

There are two types of rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease, known as RVHD1 and RVHD2, with the second being the strain found in Jersey. But as the disease can only be officially diagnosed post-mortem, rabbit owners are being urged to look out for its symptoms, which include a high fever, lethargy and bleeding from the nose and bottom.

However, some rabbits that contract the disease die so quickly that there may be no obvious symptoms.

Both strains are spread by direct contact with infected rabbits, or indirectly via their urine or faeces. The viruses can survive for months in the environment and only affects rabbits.

Jeremy Miller, veterinary surgeon with All Pets Vets, said that as there had so far only been two confirmed cases, he would urge people not to panic, adding that there was a vaccine available for the disease. However, he warned that the disease was highly contagious.

He said: ‘The first cases of this particular strain were reportedly first confirmed in France some years ago, moving to the UK, which we had heard about last year, which fortunately meant we ordered a small supply of vaccines that are still in date.’

He added that if a pet rabbit was displaying symptoms, it should be taken to a vet.

Krystle Higgins

By Krystle Higgins
Reporter

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