Reminder to vaccinate pet rabbits

Warmer spring weather and increased reports of outbreaks of rabbit biological control viruses has prompted a reminder to rabbit owners to take steps to protect their pets.

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus, or calicivirus, has been present for more than 20 years and several strains are now present including a strain released nationally last year to help control pest rabbits, according to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. 

Collie Veterinary Services veterinarian Dr Kalina Hill said calicivirus affected rabbits of all ages and was usually fatal.

“The current recommended protocol states pet rabbits need to be vaccinated every six months for life,” she said.

“Regardless of age, if your rabbit has never been vaccinated or it has been longer than six months between vaccinations, an initial course of two vaccinations, four weeks apart is required.

“It’s easily spread by direct contact between rabbits or through insect vectors, such as mosquitoes. This is why we strongly recommend vaccination.” 

Symptoms may include fever, anorexia or not eating, depression, panting, and diarrhoea with or without blood.

To protect your pet against the virus it needs the Cylap Vaccine which costs $75 per vaccination.