Vaccinations in rabbits

Is your rabbit already protected?

Just like dogs, cats, ferrets and other pets, rabbits should also be vaccinated against a number of contagious diseases. The most common diseases are myxomatosis and RHD (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease).

These diseases are both caused by a virus that can be vaccinated against. This is therefore strongly advisable given the rapid and severe (often lethal) course of the diseases.


Myxomatosis is a viral disease that is transmitted between rabbits via mosquitoes, fleas or stinging flies. The disease is especially common with wild rabbits but this disease can easily spread to domestic rabbits through insects. The spread and risk of infection is greatest in spring and summer.

You can easily recognise a rabbit with myxomatosis by the swelling and bumps (myxomas) in the face, on the ears and on the back. If a rabbit has this condition this is almost always deadly, they eventually die of respiratory problems due to pneumonia.

Protecting rabbits from myxomatosis is best done by vaccinating them at your vet’s. Since contamination may also occur via fleas, a customized flea treatment is recommended. Make sure that wild rabbits cannot come near your rabbit and possibly take action against mosquitoes and flies.


RHD is a rabbit disease that has received a lot of attention lately. The virus that causes this disease occurs in two variants, RHDV1 and RHDV2. The latter variant is common in Belgium since 2016 and is responsible for sudden mortality in rabbits.

A vaccination against the classic RHDV1 is not effective against the new variant, so rabbits are not protected against it.

An infection with the RHD virus can take place very quickly and in several ways. Rabbits can contaminate each other via direct contact, but also through food, drinking water and even bedding. Also stinging insects can transfer the virus from rabbit to rabbit.

This disease can cause sudden death in rabbits, whether or not preceded by fever and a sudden sick feeling. Bleeding often occurs just before the rabbits die of the disease.

The disease is almost impossible to treat and therefore prevention is the most important measure that you must take as an owner to prevent your rabbits from being infected.
Vaccination plays a major role in this, but avoiding contact with contaminated animals is equally important. The virus can spread very easily, for example via contaminated green fodder but also through footwear or through your hands. Disinfection and general hygiene are therefore of great importance with this disease.


The diseases myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease are diseases for which the rabbit can be protected by vaccination.
There is a combination vaccine against myxomatosis and RHDV1 that will be administered once a year, usually in spring, given the routes of infection.

However, this vaccine does not protect against the new variant of the RHD virus, RHDV2. There is a separate vaccine for that which only works for six months, and therefore needs to be administered twice a year.

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