Disease outbreak kills entire bunny litter in Letchworth

PUBLISHED: 08:30 06 September 2018

Owner Heike Joachimi was devestated when all of her rescue bunnies past away. Picture:  Heike Joachimi

Owner Heike Joachimi was devestated when all of her rescue bunnies past away. Picture: Heike Joachimi

Archant

A veterinary centre in Letchworth is warning rabbit owners of a deadly disease outbreak which has claimed the lives of an entire litter.

The outdoor rabbits could have caught the infectious disease through plants or bird droppings. Picture:  Heike JoachimiThe outdoor rabbits could have caught the infectious disease through plants or bird droppings. Picture: Heike Joachimi

Vets4Pets, based in Jubilee Road, is seeing an alarming number of deaths caused by highly infectious rabbit haemorrhagic disease in the area, and now wants to raise awareness and remind owners to keep up to date with vaccinations.

The clinic has posted on Facebook to warn clients, stating: “There have been numerous cases in this area, so please contact us for any further information and to arrange vaccination as soon as possible.

“RHD 2 is a newer variant of the disease and is not covered with your regular vaccination – which covers myxomatosis and RHD 1 – so please contact us if you are unsure about which vaccination your bunny needs.”

Rabbits owners from Letchworth, Hitchin and Baldock have commented on the post, sharing their stories of their bunnies who have been affected by the outbreak.

Vets4Pets has seen an outbreak in the disease which is has killed family pets across Letchworth and surrounding areas. Picture: Heike JoachimiVets4Pets has seen an outbreak in the disease which is has killed family pets across Letchworth and surrounding areas. Picture: Heike Joachimi

One client, Heike Joachimi from Letchworth, has lost 12 bunnies – two older rabbits, and 10 babies – to the contagious illness, which displays no symptoms.

She told the Comet: “We went away on holiday and the day we got back one of the little ones had died.

“I hoped that this was a single incident, but the next morning another one looked a bit off, he wasn’t eating – that’s when I started to suspect it might be the RHD 2, it’s all over the place at the moment.

“So I organised to have them all emergency vaccinated. Vets4Pets know a lot about rabbits and have a different vaccine which was given.

“It takes about seven days to kick in, and so over the course of three days they had all died. I was so devastated.”

Heike said she wants to help raise awareness of the disease which can be spread from wild rabbits, flies, mosquitos, bird droppings, plants – including hay and vegetables – and from contaminated footwear or clothing, putting even indoor rabbits at risk.

She continued: “It goes very quickly and can kill within two to three hours. The only thing I would say to any rabbit owner is to vaccinate.”

Heike also has three older rabbits of her own, which are all fully vaccinated and living in the same environment as the rescue rabbits. They were not affected by RHD 2.

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