Hello there, it’s been a while. I have been very busy and haven’t had a lot to say, so I haven’t said anything. But I thought I should at least come back and update you on how everyone is doing, especially as the last time I left you, I had another rabbit just come down with myxomatosis! Sprüngli survived and she is doing well. She didn’t get anywhere near as bad as Delilah although she did not cope quite as well as she is a more stressy rabbit. Her eyes recovered and look pretty normal; her nose is more problematic though. Because she had a big nodule right at the end of her nostril, she’s lost a lot of the underlying bone and cartilage and has holes all over the place round the end of her nose. I suspect this will make her much more prone to infections in the future as she doesn’t have as many turbinates left to help filter out any bacteria or stop other irritants from getting up her nose.
Delilah continues to thrive. Since November I have been taking her for acupuncture on her nose, as she had a massive nodule scab bridging the middle of her nose and it was stuck fast. It looked as if it had completely stopped granulating and had just decided to stay how it was. The vet has been using a technique called ‘surrounding the dragon’ which involves prodding all the way round the edge of the wound with the acupuncture needles, to deliberately create a bit of injury and stimulate the body to carry on healing. The needles are extremely fine so it doesn’t cause her discomfort. It’s more of an occupational hazard for the vet to have her hands that closely proximate to Delilah’s teeth!! Anyway, after about 3 or 4 sessions the scab plopped off on Christmas Eve. Underneath it the bone was exposed with skin slowly growing in over it. There was also evidence of new bone growth, suggesting that there had been a hole under there at some point. Even now there is still some bone exposed so we are carrying on with the acupuncture to try and stimulate it to close right over.
I have also bonded Delilah with her son Pablo. They are getting on really well and spend all their time together. Delilah hasn’t been spayed yet as I really want to give her body a long time to recover before elective surgery and ideally for her nose to be healed over too. I’ll also admit to a small amount of procrastination based on a fear that after everything she’s been through it won’t go smoothly – even though I’ve got a very experienced vet and have never had any problems with bunny neuters. Maybe around March, when the weather warms up a bit?
Other than that, life ticks on. RHD2 continues to be reported and Filavac is now widely available in the UK. There are still of course some ‘cold spots’ where few vets have it, but for all but the most remote parts of the UK, I’d have thought that most owners should be able to find a vet stocking it within about half an hour’s drive. It still disappoints me how some vets aren’t taking it seriously but I think good progress has been made overall. Based on import certificate data from the Vet Medicines Directorate, probably around half of UK small animal vets now have an import certificate.
You may also have read about the emergence of a UK licenced vaccine called eravac. Now I’m not a vet so I can’t advise you on all the details and you need to be led by your vet, but my understanding is that the Eravac data sheet says it is for meat rabbits only. The reason for this is that it doesn’t have a duration of immunity established – i.e. we don’t know how long protection lasts for and hence when your rabbits need to have a booster. For meat rabbits sadly this doesn’t matter, as they will only have one vaccine and will then be killed for meat. Also, when you read the underlying data, there is this little sentence which says that it is to ‘reduce’ mortality from RHD2. The data tests didn’t show complete protection in one of their clinical trials, so they aren’t able to claim 100% effectiveness. The existing filavac data sheets however do show that 100% of rabbits who had filavac survived a challenge with RHD2, hence their product says it is to ‘prevent’ mortality. The other thing with eravac is that it is mineral oil based, which is well known to risk nasty lesions at the injection site and your vet could even lose a finger if they accidentally self-inject. Oh and it only comes in vials of 10 or 40 (presumably because it’s designed for mass-vaccination of groups of meat rabbits) so far less convenient for your vet. So if it’s a choice of eravac or nothing, I’d much prefer to have eravac, but given the choice, I’d much rather have filavac. Your vet should still be able to get it under the cascade even though there is now a licenced product, but they may need a new import certificate stating that they don’t believe the licenced product (eravac) is suitable for the purpose. The VMD have still been issuing certificates for filavac since eravac was licenced so it does seem as if this is still possible and acceptable, which is good. Hopefully this year we will get a directly licenced product in the UK which ticks all the required boxes and provides complete protection.
Gosh, I ended up writing far more than I had intended…