The effects of vaccination against myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD) on long-term mortality rates in European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were studied from 1993 to 1996 by radiotracking a free-living population of wild rabbits. During the three months after immunisation, unvaccinated young rabbits weighing between 180 and 600 g were 13.6 times more likely to die than vaccinated young rabbits. In adult rabbits, vaccination did not significantly decrease mortality, mainly owing to the high proportion of rabbits which had previously been exposed to the antigens of both diseases. Compared with adult rabbits with natural antibodies to VHD, rabbits without these antibodies were 5.2 times more likely to die of VHD during annual outbreaks.
- British Veterinary Association. All rights reserved.