Vaccine for lethal new rabbit disease launched in the UK
• New rabbit disease strain RVHD2 a growing killer
January 26, 2016, Taunton, Somerset, UK. Press Dispensary.
• RVHD2 not tackled by existing UK vaccine
• Rabbit Welfare Association (RWAF) introduces new anti-RVHD2 vaccine to UK
Over the past year, there has been growing concern among vets and rabbit owners that a new variant of the deadly disease Rabbit VHD is causing a wave of deaths among rabbits in several outbreaks across the UK. The lethal new strain, known as RVHD2, is 'immune' to the UK's current 'combi' vaccine but the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF)
is now able to announce that it is introducing into the UK a new vaccine, Cunivak RHD, which offers protection.
Dr Richard Saunders, the RWAF Specialist Veterinary Adviser, has been working with others* on behalf of the RWAF in putting together a disease risk assessment and making it possible to import the new vaccine - Cunivak RHD - to tackle RVHD2. The RWAF has now successfully established a Special Import Certificate (SIC) for Cunivak RHD and has ordered a small number of vaccines to establish an ordering system into the UK. This means UK vets are able to order or import the new vaccine themselves for the protection of pet rabbits.
Dr Saunders says: "RVHD2 is a growing and deadly problem - a new strain of an already lethal disease that sidesteps our existing vaccines and appears to be spreading in the UK. Thankfully, we've found an answer in the vaccine Cunivak RHD and have been able to jump through the necessary hoops to enable vets to bring it into the UK.
"Cunivak RHD is not a replacement for the combi vaccine so my advice, and the advice of the RWAF, is that vets and rabbit owners should keep on using the combi vaccine and add the second vaccine to their annual vaccination schedule to give their rabbits full protection against both deadly diseases, as well as Myxomatosis.
The RWAF urges rabbit owners to discuss the new vaccine with their own vet and holds a list of rabbit savvy vets: anyone who would like to know of rabbit savvy vets in their area can email
Vet practices that would like to be considered for the RWAF list or would like the RWAF's information sheet on RVHD2 can also email
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Notes for editors
* Dr Richard Saunders created the RVHD2 disease risk assessment, on behalf of the RWAF, with the valuable assistance of the APLA, Ann Pocknell (Finn Pathologists), Mark Stidworthy and Daniela Denk (IZVG) and Tariq Abou-Zahr (Great Western Referrals).
The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) is the UK's leading rabbit welfare charity and has existed since 1996. Based in Taunton, Somerset, it is the combined effort of the Rabbit Welfare Association, which has about 3000 members, and its charity partner, the Rabbit Welfare Fund, working to improve the lives of domestic rabbits across the UK through education and communication. Charity No 1085689.
The RWAF Veterinary Adviser is Dr Richard Saunders BSc (Hons) BVSc FRSB CBiol DZooMed (Mammalian) MRCVS. RCVS Specialist in Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine (Mammalian)
Dr Saunders cannot enter into individual correspondent with rabbit owners, who are advised instead to consult their vet. Vet practices can find out more about RVHD2 by emailing
For further information please contact
Rae Todd, Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund
Tel: 07585 701012