Deerfield Beach vet warns rabbit owners to vaccinate against RHDV disease

The fatal virus is called rabbit hemorrhagic disease
Posted at 5:53 PM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 22:20:30-04

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — A South Florida veterinarian is warning rabbit owners about a fatal virus that is spreading in the United States.

Dr. Susan Kelleher, known as Dr. K on the National Geographic Wild network, cares for all kinds of animals.

"This little chinchilla is going to get neutered today," she said. "One of the cool things that I love about my practice is I have these animals with these incredible life spans. Like who has a pet that's 58 years old."

WPTV first told you about the RHDV2 virus back in January, with local veterinarians providing a vaccine.

"So, there's a disease that has gotten into the United States called rabbit hemorrhagic disease," said Kelleher. "It's very hardy in the environment and hard to get rid of."

Kelleher is a doctor at the Broward Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital. Right now, she's most worried about the life span of pet rabbits, which she says averages between seven and 12 years.

"This is a disease that is 100 percent deadly to the rabbits, and it's a really scary death," she said. "They die very suddenly, with a high fever, with blood coming out of their nose and mouth."

Kelleher says she has 3,000 bunny patients. Since January, she has vaccinated hundreds.

Even though she says you cannot control the wild rabbit population, you can care for your pet.

"It's important that we vaccinate our domestic rabbits. This virus as I mentioned is very hardy," she said. "It can come in on our shoes, it can come in on food items, it can be carried around in the environment."

And with the Easter holiday, people tend to buy rabbits. She said make sure they're vaccinated.

"There are some wonderful organizations that have adoptable rabbits and most of them are vaccinated for this disease," she said.

If your rabbit is not vaccinated for RHDV, Kelleher highly recommends doing so.

"I would strongly urge you to get in touch with veterinarian who specializes in avian and exotics that would have the vaccine available," she said.

Kelleher will vaccinate rabbits with appointments on April 16 and April 23.

To make a vaccination appointment for your rabbit, call Broward Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital at 954-968-7171.