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Owners urged to vaccinate rabbits after RHDV-2 outbreak
Vets are calling on members of the public to protect their rabbits against RHDV-2.

Six animals killed at an animal rescue centre in Lancashire

Rabbit owners are being urged to vaccinate their pets against rabbit haemorrhagic disease variant two (RHVD-2) after six animals died of the virus at an animal rescue centre in Lancashire.

The animals belonged to Pennine Pen Animal Rescue in Oldham and were taken in by the charity when they were abandoned or handed in as strays. Although the rabbits had been vaccinated against RHDV and myxomatosis, they had unfortunately not been protected against this new variant.

A postmortem on two of the bunnies by Tameside Veterinary Clinic confirmed suspicions the rabbits were suffering from RHDV-2. The surviving rabbits at the rescue centre have since been vaccinated.

RHDV-2 is a symptomless disease that has killed hundreds of rabbits across the UK. It spreads by direct contact with infected wild rabbits, or indirectly via urine or faeces found in hay and straw bedding.

“One of the rabbits at the charity died and then, two days later, one more died and had haemorrhaged from its rectum, which raised suspicions,” explained senior vet Loren Shearing. “Three more died and, when I went to vaccinate them, another looked very unwell so we euthanised him. The others were all fine and lively before sudden death."

She continued: “The rabbit pen is closed off and members of the public can’t handle the rabbits, so the only thing we can link it to is hay bales from a local farm, which could have urine or faeces in from an infected rabbit.”

Pennine Pen Animal Rescue assistant manager Joanne Worsley added: “There were no signs there was anything wrong as some of the rabbits we lost were hopping about and eating grass the day before they died.

“They were vaccinated against RVHD and myxomatosis, but not against this new strain of RVHD-2. They have now been vaccinated against it and hopefully, there is a chance of them all surviving.”

Following this outbreak, vets are calling on members of the public to protect their rabbits against this incurable, yet vaccine-preventable disease.

“RVHD-2 is a silent killer and can be very distressing for owners who find their pets have died suddenly for no apparent reason,” Dr Shearing added. “It is extremely important that rabbit owners have their pets vaccinated annually against RVHD and myxomatosis, before a second vaccination to combat RVHD2.”

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.