A VETERINARY in Reading is urging rabbit owners to vaccinate their pets against a new strain of virus.

Easipetcare has raised their concerns about a new strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) which has no cure and is almost always fatal.

Vaccinations offer the only way to protect rabbits and the veterinary is stressing the importance of them.

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Easipetcare's Head of Practice, Kirsten Mitchell, said: “This disease can be devastating for pet owners who often find their beloved rabbits seriously unwell.

“There is no cure, which is why we’re passionate about including the preventative vaccine in our rabbit health plan, so there’s an affordable solution for rabbit owners.

“The team at the practice have worked hard raising awareness, and we are committed to helping owners in the area protect the health and welfare of their rabbits.”

The warning signs are hard to spot with the disease causing internal bleeding.

The course is usually rapid with rabbits suddenly appearing seriously unwell or being found dead.

Even rabbits taken to the vets with the disease have a slim chance of surviving, but the vaccinations are effective in preventing infection.

Symptoms of the disease include loss of appetite, fever, lethargy, nervous spasms, coma or unexplained bleeding but rabbits don’t need to meet another rabbit to be infected.

They ‘shed’ highly infectious virus before they become ill and these particles can be carried by the wind, shoes, car tyres, pets’ feet or wildlife before infecting other rabbits.

Kirsten added: “When owners have experienced the unexplained sudden death of a rabbit we appreciate that it’s often a very difficult time, but encourage them to call us so we can advise on how to effectively clean the rabbit’s living space to ensure it is safe for other rabbits in the area, and prior to bringing a new rabbit into the home.”

If you are concerned your rabbit may have been affected by RHD, or to find out more about disease prevention, please call Easipetcare Reading on 01189 699526 or visit the website www.easipetcare.com.