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Understanding Current Rabbit Vaccination Protocols in Australia

Understanding Current Rabbit Vaccination Protocols in Australia

As a responsible pet owner, it's important to ensure that your rabbit is up-to-date with their vaccinations.

In Australia, there are specific protocols that must be followed to protect your furry friend from potentially deadly diseases.

This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about rabbit vaccinations in Australia.

What is Calicivirus?

Calicivirus is a highly contagious viral disease that affects rabbits. It is also known as Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) or Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (RVHD). The disease is caused by a type of virus called calicivirus.

Calicivirus can cause severe liver disease and internal bleeding in rabbits, leading to a high rate of illness and death. The disease is transmitted through contact with infected rabbits, their feces, or contaminated surfaces. The virus can also be spread by fleas, mosquitoes, and other insects.

Symptoms of calicivirus in rabbits can include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, and sudden death. Some rabbits may show no symptoms at all.

There are  2 strains of calicivirus that affect rabbits, including the classic RHDV1 strain and the RHDV2 strain.

Until recently, the vaccine used only provided protection against the RHDV1 strain of calicivirus, administered every 6 months. There is now a new vaccination that will protect against both strains of RHDV and this only requires a booster annually.  

Why Vaccinations are Important for Your Rabbit.

Vaccinations are crucial for the health of your pet rabbit as they protect them from potentially deadly diseases. Rabbits are susceptible to a range of diseases, including myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), which can be fatal. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination against Myxomatosis.

Vaccinations can prevent these diseases and ensure that your rabbit stays healthy and happy. It's important to follow the recommended vaccination protocols to ensure that your rabbit is fully protected.

Understanding the Different Types of Vaccinations.

Myxomatosis ia  a viral disease that is spread by fleas and mosquitoes.  While there are sometimes reports of a vaccine for Myxomatosis, unfortunately, there is no vaccination available in Australia to protect rabbits from myxomatosis. The best protection you can provide your pet rabbit from Myxomatosis is to keep them indoors or ensure that their enclosure has adequate protection from mosquitoes such as insect screen around their enclosure.

The RHDV vaccine protects against rabbit haemorrhagic disease, a highly contagious and often fatal disease that is spread by direct contact with infected rabbits or their feces. It's important to ensure that your rabbit receives this vaccination.


What are the Most Recent Ways to Prevent Calicivirus RHDV1 and RHDV2 in Rabbits?


Preventing Calicivirus (RHDV) in your rabbit involves several steps:

  1. Vaccination: The most effective way to prevent RHDV is through annual vaccination. Consult with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate vaccination schedule for your rabbit.

  2. Biosecurity: RHDV can be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces or other rabbits. Minimise your rabbit's exposure to potential sources of infection by keeping them indoors or in a secure hutch, and avoid contact with other rabbits or their feces.

  3. Sanitation: Regularly clean and disinfect your rabbit's living area to reduce the risk of infection. Use a disinfectant that is effective against RHDV and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

  4. Pest control: Control insects, such as fleas and mosquitoes, which can transmit RHDV to your rabbit. Use appropriate insecticides and keep your rabbit's living area free of standing water.

  5. Quarantine: If you bring a new rabbit into your home, keep them separated from your existing rabbit for at least two weeks to ensure they are not carrying RHDV or other infectious diseases.

By taking these steps, you can help reduce the risk of your rabbit contracting RHDV. However, it's important to monitor your rabbit's health closely and seek veterinary care if you suspect they may be ill, as no prevention strategy is 100% effective.

When to Vaccinate Your Rabbit.

It's recommended that rabbits receive their calicivirus  for both strains of RHDV1 and RHVD2 at 10 weeks of age unless your vet recommends otherwise. After that, rabbits should receive annual booster shots to maintain their immunity. 

If you're unsure about when to vaccinate your rabbit, consult with your veterinarian for guidance.

Do Indoor Rabbits Need to be Vaccinated?

In Australia, it is important to vaccinate pet rabbits against rabbit calicivirus, even if they are kept indoors. While indoor rabbits may have reduced exposure to the virus, it can still be spread through contaminated items such as clothing, shoes, and feed, as well as through fleas and mosquitos. Therefore, vaccination protocols should be followed to ensure the health and safety of pet rabbits.

How Often to Vaccinate Your Rabbit.

It is now recommended to vaccinate your pet rabbit at 10 weeks of age, followed by a booster every 12 months.

While the vaccination schedule is 12 months, the Australian Veterinary Association recommends that rabbits have a 6 monthly health check. Consult with your veterinarian for guidance on when to vaccinate your rabbit.

What to Expect During and After Vaccination.

During vaccination, your rabbit may experience some mild discomfort or swelling at the injection site. This is normal and should subside within a few days. After vaccination, it's important to monitor your rabbit for any signs of adverse reactions, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. It's also important to keep your rabbit's vaccination records up to date and bring them to every veterinary appointment.


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