Vaccines available for highly contagious rabbit disease

Vaccine clinic for rabbits held in Middletown
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 8:14 PM EDT
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MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WFSB) - People who have rabbits as pets are being encouraged to get them vaccinated against a highly contagious and deadly virus.

Pieper Veterinary in Middletown held a vaccination clinic today for concerned rabbit owners.

Many owners have heard of of the 14 rabbits that died in Hartford county a few weeks ago, and want to protect their bunnies.

“When I saw in Hartford, I was like ‘oh my gosh’ I have to take care of this or she is never going to forgive me,” said Jeannette Ferris, Willington.

Jeannette brought her children’s 4 year old rabbit, Midnight, in for his vaccine.

She has heard about the deadly RHDV2 virus affecting rabbits, and knew the time to protect him is now.

“Since it’s my child’s bunny, I’m concerned what the effects would be on the children if something were to happen to the pet. They said that the humans can’t get sick by this or dogs or cats, but I guess you are talking about your child’s emotional well being if they lost their bunny? Absolutely, the bunny is really a member of the family,” said Jeannette.

The RHDV2 virus can be found in rabbits in the wild, but their bodily secretions can be highly contagious. If a domesticated rabbit is outside and comes into contact with these secretions, it is deadly.

Humans can also track the virus in to the house with their shoes and infect their pet rabbits in the home.

“Separate shoes inside and outside the house, separate clothes if you have rabbits kept outside which I would not recommend,” said Dr. Peter Sojka.

Veterinarian Dr. Peter Sojka of Pieper Veterinary says the best thing is to do is to get your rabbit vaccinated right away.

“Now that we have this warning case in Connecticut, it’s important that we try to protect all of the rabbits in the state from disease,” said Dr. Sojka.

This is a two dose vaccine spaced several weeks apart. The vaccine takes several weeks to kick in for full effect, so it is best to do it as soon as possible.

Infected rabbits can bleed from their eyes and their rear ends and by that time it is too late.