Tuesday, February 27, 2024

USDA Approves Vital Rabbit Disease Vaccine (Pet Owners Alert!)

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The recent conditional licensing of a vaccine for rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Center for Veterinary Biologics (USDA-CVB) is a crucial development, especially for pet rabbit owners. The vaccine, produced by Medgene, is set to play a significant role in safeguarding rabbits from this highly contagious and deadly disease.

Why Is RHDV2 Important?

RHDV2 first appeared in the United States in early 2020, having been common among wild rabbits in Europe, Asia, and Australia. It quickly spread to multiple states, particularly in the western U.S. The disease is known for its high mortality rate, with pet rabbits experiencing death rates between 70% to 100% upon infection with this new variant, which is considered more dangerous than its predecessors.

RHDV2 affects both wild and domestic rabbits but does not infect humans or other animals. The virus primarily attacks the liver, leading to severe liver dysfunction or failure. Clinical signs in infected rabbits include bleeding from the eyes, nose, or mouth, jaundice, and in some cases, respiratory or neurological symptoms.

Alarmingly, some rabbits may not show any symptoms before succumbing to the disease, leading to sudden death.

The virus’s resilience in various environments poses a significant risk of transmission to pet rabbits. It can be carried into homes on clothing or shoes, and direct exposure to blood, urine, or feces of an infected rabbit can lead to infection.

Caution: To mitigate this risk, experts advise against allowing pet rabbits to graze in areas frequented by wild rabbits, ensuring cleanliness, and most importantly, vaccinating pet rabbits.

RHDV2 Vaccine Overview

The vaccine’s efficacy has been demonstrated in preliminary research, with studies showing that all vaccinated rabbits survived exposure to the virus, while a majority of unvaccinated rabbits succumbed to the disease.

The vaccine, which requires two doses administered at least three weeks apart and annual boosters, has shown minimal side effects, such as mild swelling at the injection site and mild fever or lethargy post-vaccination.

The new RHDV2 vaccine is a vital tool for rabbit owners, offering a means to protect their pets from a highly fatal disease. Its availability and the continued efforts to ensure its safety and efficacy mark a significant step forward in domestic rabbit healthcare and disease prevention.

Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran is crazy about animals and birds! An avid rescuer and rehabilitator of animals and birds, she uses PETSMOND to share her experiences in raising different creatures and paying attention to intricate aspects of their health. Know more about me - https://petsmond.com/about/

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