1. ITV Report

Guernsey rabbits hit by fatal viral disease

Two four week old rabbits of the trice coloured checkered Rex breed Photo: Holger Hollemann/DPA/PA Images

Pet owners are being warned to take "great care" after concerns of a fatal disease affecting rabbits in Guernsey.

The GSPCA has confirmed that Rabbit Haemorraghic Viral Disease (RHVD2) variant 2 has been discovered in Guernsey.

The fatal disease is a huge risk to unvaccinated rabbits and especially to those in outside enclosures.

So far, vets have confirmed two positive cases of rabbits who have died due to RHVD2.

However, the true number of deaths is harder to ascertain as many pet rabbits do not get taken to vets and many deaths go unreported.

The disease is believed to be spread by parasites that feed on infected rabbits and pick it up and pass on during their life cycle to other rabbits that they feed on.

Steve Byrne, GSPCA Manager said: "The team at the GSPCA are extremely worried at present for all rabbits in Guernsey".

Normally there are symptoms leading up to this disease but the one that we have seen at the GSPCA was well and feeding normally and then the following day was rushed to the vet where nothing could be done.

The rabbit in question was vaccinated against Myxi and RHVD1 but not variant 2 which has never been an issue here in Guernsey.

– Steve Byrne, GSPCA Manager

Rabbit owners are being urged to speak to their vets about vaccinations to help protect their pets.

Experts are also asking islanders to keep their pet rabbits away from any wild rabbits that may have access to your garden.

This disease is extremely dangerous to our pet bunnies and for those rabbits living outside pet owners really need to contact their vet for advice.

The virus is believed to be passed on by vectors such as fleas and other parasites although only having been discovered in France in 2010 a lot still is unknown.

We are working extremely closely with the States Vet and will of course update with further information as and when we are able to.

– Steve Byrne, GSPCA Manager

Symptoms of RVHD-2 include:

  • Not eating
  • Bleeding under the skin
  • Clotting disorders
  • Signs of liver disease including: weight loss/ jaundice
  • Bleeding from orifices.

Owners who have recently had a rabbit that has died please are asked to send the details to the GSPCA at .