Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease
Griffin Exotics will be offering the Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) vaccine starting in February, 2022. The state of North Carolina has granted an emergency use for the MedGene RHDV2 vaccine to help prevent RHDV2, and our office will be providing this vaccine as a service to our current clients and rabbits patients that are up to date with their wellness exams.
We will be setting up days with special appointment slots where we will be offering these vaccines – they will not be available during regular appointments. Clients will be required to pre-pay for both vaccines, and will be scheduled after this payment is made. We will try to be flexible with scheduling dates, but due to some vaccine logistics, we will only be offering vaccines on specific dates (and rabbits must be vaccinated the second time in 21 days – so scheduling this detail is critical).
This vaccine requires 2 doses that have to be given 21 days apart, according to the manufacturer. The vaccine bottle should be used immediately according to the manufacturer as well, meaning that we have a limited amount of time to use the bottle once it is open. Because of this, scheduling these days will require a minimum number of rabbits so as not to waste vaccine.
Each visit for the vaccine will include a brief vaccine related exam. Consultation with the veterinarian about the overall health of the rabbit will not be included with the vaccine visit. However, if the rabbit is found to be too sick for the vaccine, someone will contact you about these findings and we will try to reschedule for the next available time (and possibly an exam to have your rabbit further evaluated); additional fees may apply for this vaccine rescheduling. This is one reason that it is important to have your rabbit up to date (within the last 6 months) with a wellness exam to be considered eligible for the RHDV2 vaccine
The vaccine is known to have the occasional mild side effect, usually related to pain at the injection site or signs of lethargy and a mild fever for 1-2 days post vaccination. An NSAID pain reliever should be OK to give (such as Meloxicam) if this is the case.
As this is an emergency use vaccine, we must follow the guidelines set forth in this emergency use declaration. Some questions still remain about efficacy and potential boosters (which may be needed yearly or even more frequently). We strongly recommend limiting any exposure to outdoor areas where wild rabbits may also be present, as the virus does not seem to require direct exposure to a sick rabbit to infect another rabbit.
In order to help understand the vaccine’s effect on rabbits in our practice, Griffin Exotics has partnered with a laboratory to offer free blood work (a complete blood count and measurement of an acute phase protein) to rabbits that elect to enroll in the study. There will be a limited number of places in this study, but we hope to provide this opportunity to at least 40 rabbits. Enrollment details will follow, but blood will need to be drawn on 4 occasions (at the first vaccine appointment, 1 week later, at the second vaccine appointment, and 3 weeks after that). Results of these tests will be shared with clients after the study is done, unless a significant abnormality is discovered that requires immediate attention.
If you are interested in getting this RHDV2 vaccine for your rabbit, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Rabbit Vaccine” as the subject. Someone will contact you regarding what to do next. Calls to the office regarding the vaccine availability will be referred to this protocol and folks will be asked to email us as detailed above.
RHDV2 is almost always fatal. Thankfully, as of February 13, 2022, North Carolina has not experienced a known case. Based on the epidemiological trends, it is likely to start affecting rabbits in our state sometime in 2022. Keeping our pet rabbits away from spaces where wild rabbits may be and considering the vaccine may be our best chances to keep this disease from putting our pet rabbits’ lives at risk.
More links about this disease and the vaccine can be found here:
Dr. Griffin, Dr. Edgerton and the Staff at Griffin Exotics