Small Animal

Rabbit vaccinations

There are two disease for which vaccination is available in rabbits, myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease.


Since it entered the UK, this disease has killed millions of rabbits and still continues to do so. It causes a disease in which there are swellings around the head and genitals associated with a high fever and discharge from the eyes and nose. It is fatal in 98% of cases, although this may take a couple of weeks.

Myxomatosis is spread by biting insects. The rabbit flea is involved, but there is strong evidence a species of biting fly, possibly a mosquito, can also spread it. Consequently, your rabbit does not need to be anywhere near a wild rabbit to catch the disease and even house rabbits are not safe.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease

This rapidly fatal viral disease caused devastation amongst rabbit populations across Asia and Europe before entering the UK in the early '90s. It is spread by biting insects and causes death with 24-48 hours, often with blood from the nostrils.

The UK has not seen a VHD epidemic on the scale expected, but the virus is definitely here. It is suspected there may be a native virus with some cross-protection, but this is not proven. We do not see many cases of this disease although it has been reported in the area.


There is a combined vaccination which will protect against both these diseases. The vaccination is given as a single dose from 5 weeks of age. Annual vaccination is required to maintain protection.