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Rabbit owners in Hertfordshire urged to vaccinate pets after outbreak of deadly disease

The RSPCA wants owners to get their rabbits vaccinated. Credit: PA

The RSPCA has urged rabbit owners in Hertfordshire to get their pets vaccinated "as a matter of urgency" after an outbreak of a deadly disease in the county.

It comes after a new strain of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease, known as RVHD2, was found in Rickmansworth.

The disease causes internal bleeding and is hard to spot due to the fact that some rabbits die so quickly that their owners don't even realise they're ill.

According to the RSPCA, two vaccinations are needed to protect them against the disease - one against the original strain, and a second against the new one.

Both strains of the disease are spread by direct contact with infected rabbits, or indirectly via their urine or faeces.

“RVHD2 is a nasty new strain of this lethal virus that is now present throughout the UK and it can kill rabbits very quickly," RSPCA Chief Veterinary Officer Caroline Allen said.

“It’s highly infectious, and there is no known treatment, so we urge rabbit owners to contact their vet and arrange for their pet rabbits to be vaccinated against RVHD2 as soon as possible. Vaccination against this new strain is very effective and can be done any time after a rabbit is 30 days old.”