From 1st to 7th June, it is Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW). This year the campaign is raising awareness around Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RVHD2).

RVHD2 is a new variant of RVHD1 and is often fatal. With this in mind, rabbit owners are being urged to get their bunnies vaccinated to protect them.


RVHD2 is highly infectious and can kill rabbits within hours. Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to protect against the disease, but research shows that nearly half a million pet rabbits in the UK didn’t receive a primary course of vaccinations when they were young.

Burgess Pet Care

RAW was created by Burgess Pet Care over 13 years ago to improve the health and wellbeing of Britain’s pet rabbits and is supported by the UK’s leading animal welfare organisations, charities and veterinary professionals.

Burgess Pet Care is a national animal feed and pet food supplier and manufacturer. As a family-owned business with over 300 years of history, the health and wellbeing of animals is Burgess Pet Care’s number one goal. They actively work with a number of leading charities to help educate and raise awareness around animal welfare needs and are the main organisers of RAW.

Alex Thorne at Burgess Pet Care says:

“Thousands of vets all over the country join forces every year to highlight the key issues throughout Rabbit Awareness Week. Their support is invaluable in helping the RAW partners improve the health and wellbeing of the nation’s pet rabbits. Rabbits are very good at hiding signs of illness so regular visits to the vet are an important part of keeping pet rabbits happy and healthy. Vaccinations are the only way of protecting rabbits against a variety of fatal diseases.”

Alex adds: “RVHD2 is preventable with the right vaccination. As the disease has now been reported all over the UK, there is a real urgency for UK rabbit owners to get their bunnies vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Dr Richard Saunders BSc (Hons) BVSc MRCVS is one of the UK’s leading rabbit experts and explains that as well as protecting against RVHD2, there are other diseases that rabbit owners must look out for:

“There are three fatal viral diseases amongst our rabbit population, which can be vaccinated against. Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic disease 1 and 2, which kill a high proportion of the rabbits infected, often so quickly that there is no warning before finding them dead; and myxomatosis, which can result in a slow and painful death for rabbits suffering the worst forms of the infection.”

Richard adds: “These diseases can be prevented by vaccination and it is absolutely vital to do this even if there haven’t been any outbreaks of these diseases in your area yet. These diseases can spread rapidly and by the time there is an outbreak in your area and your rabbits aren’t vaccinated – it may be too late.”

Rabbits have complicated welfare needs, so RAW presents a great opportunity to learn more about rabbits and how to correctly care for them.

Rabbit owners seeking professional advice about their pets are being encouraged to find out more at Pets Corner in PE1 or visit the Rabbit Awareness Week website.


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