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At the Darwin Veterinary Centre we strongly recommend that thought is given to vaccinating all rabbits against Myxomatosis and Viral haemorrhagic Disease. These vaccines are relatively inexpensive, and prevent the deaths of tens of thousands of pet rabbits every year in the UK.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)

Rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD) was first reported in Europe in the early 1980s. The virus is highly infectious, affecting rabbits 8 weeks or older, and causing a variety of symptoms, including fever, depression, anorexia, diarrhoea, and sadly, death in most rabbits affected.

A vaccine is available to prevent the disease, and requires one initial injection and then one annual booster.


Myxomatosis is the most serious infectious disease affecting pet rabbits. It is caused by a tiny virus which grows best in the skin of rabbits, and is transmitted from rabbit to rabbit by insects, such as biting flies and fleas. It is very contagious and the fatality rate in unvaccinated rabbits is depressingly high, even when aggressive intensive care is undertaken by a vet.

The incubation period varies slightly from one animal to another, but can be as short as 3 days and as long as 14 days.