Rabbit Calici Virus - what you need to know

16 Sep 2018

Rabbit Calici Virus - July update, Filavac Vaccine Available at Vetcall Animal Hospital Christchurch

We are please to advise that the new Filavac VHD K C + V  vaccine is in stock at the clinic now.  This vaccine protects against both V1 and V2 stains of the virus and replaces our previous vaccine Cylap which is not effective against V2 stains.

The newly discovered V2 strain of Calicivirus is known to cause disease in very young rabbits from four weeks of age and can cause a longer more severe illness than seen with other strains.  This strain is highly infectious and it is likely that this is now wide spread in the wild rabbit population.

We recommend that all rabbits regardless of their prior vaccination history are vaccinated with Filavac as soon as possible to ensure they are protected against the new and nasty V2 strain, along with boosting immunity against the existing V1 strains. Please contact us to book an appointment. 

For rabbits that have recently been vaccinated with Cylap a two week interval is recommended between revaccination with Filavac.

Rabbits can be vaccinated with Filavac from ten weeks of age and require a single vaccination followed by an annual booster. It takes seven days for rabbits to develop immunity following vaccination.  The efficacy of the vaccine in rabbits younger than ten weeks of age has not been demonstrated and its use would be considered off label, and an additional vaccination is recommended at ten weeks.

Unfortunately Filavac is significantly more expensive than the Cylap vaccine, but it is reassuring that we now have this vaccine available to protect our pet rabbits against this nasty disease.

In addition to Filavac vaccination, to reduce the risk of your pet rabbit becoming infected from a wild rabbit please follow the following preventative measures:

  • Control insects (especially flies and fleas) as much as possible both indoors and outdoors. Flies are the main vector through which the virus is spread.
  • Remove uneaten food daily to not attract flies.
  • Keep pet rabbits indoors where possible.
  • Rabbit-proof backyards to prevent access by wild rabbits.
  • Regularly decontaminate equipment and materials (eg. cages, hutches, bowls) with either 10% bleach or 10% sodium hydroxide. Leave for 10 minutes, then rinse off.
  • Limit contact with and handling of unfamiliar pet rabbits. Take special precautions if attending any events where unfamiliar rabbits are present, such as petting zoos, rabbit shows and rescue centres.
  • Use good biosecurity measures (eg. wash hands, shoes and clothing) after handling other people’s rabbits.
  • Isolate new rabbits for 7 days before introducing to other rabbits.
  • Rinse all leafy greens well before feeding them to rabbits. While feeding rabbits leafy greens remains a risk for introducing infection, the benefits of feeding these is considered to outweigh the risks.

If you have any questions or concerns about your rabbit please do not hesitate to contact us.

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