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Vaccine hunted for deadly rabbit disease

A hunt is underway for the vaccine of an dangerous rabbit virus that has killed 400 pets in Britain in the last six months.

Pet owners are being warned of a new strain of rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) that can kill within days.

With little to no symptoms, pets could remain at risk if unprotected.

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Neill Gardner, chairman of the British Rabbit Council, has said the vaccine is expected to be licensed next month, reports the Daily Mail.

RHD-2 spreads through people, animals and bedding for rabbits with the only vaccines having to be imported from France and Spain.

Richard Saunders, a Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund veterinary expert, said the “vast majority” of owners didn’t know about the virus.

He added that a number of vets were also unaware – or didn’t deem it necessary to vaccinate the rabbits.

Higher temperatures were also said to help spread the disease.

“The biggest worry about this virus is that it is endemic – it spreads slower than it kills so it creeps around the country in a more sinister pattern than the first strain,” he told the Telegraph.

“The fear factor is we don’t know how it’s spreading,” said Neill Gardner, chairman of the British Rabbit Council (BRC) told the BBC.

Mr Gardner added: “With the former strain ‘there was usually a visible sign, like bloody discharge from the nostrils.

“Now they just drop dead”.


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