When we were first introduced to the English Angora rabbit breed, we had no idea that this vaccination existed. It wasn't until we became more familiar with rabbits and Pasteurella, that we started paying close attention to what people had to say about bunny illnesses. Please know that the information you are reading here is based on our opinions and knowledge of Pasteurella in rabbits. None of us here in this home are medical doctors and are only learning from experience and conversations with other breeders who have experienced symptoms of Pasteurella in their rabbits. I will also add that I have spoken extensively to a licensed veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals on this matter as well.
This seems to be a very controversial subject amongst rabbit breeders. We know this only because of all of the facebook groups we belong to. I have noticed posts with information about this bacteria in rabbits that will have many different opinions from every person that writes something. For the most part, we have come to the conclusion that it (Pasteurella) is incurable but the symptoms can be treated. We have also read in many places that most rabbits are exposed to Pasteurella, but not all show symptoms. When rabbits show symptoms it is most likely due to being put in a stressful situation and the weaker immune systems cannot fight it off. We experienced what we "thought" was Pasturella in our barn once and couldn't understand what brought it on. After speaking to a few other breeders, we realized it happened when some of our does kindled. Kindling can stress the doe and bring out the symptoms. This only happened to us once and we quarantined and isolated the rabbits that were portraying symptoms. Some people cull and discard the weaker rabbits. Everyone has their own opinion of what is best for them and we will not argue that right. We, here at CBB choose to not cull any animal unless it is absolutely necessary. We certainly do not cull a rabbit because it has a wrong color or coat type! We bring these cute babies into this world so we are responsible for giving each and every one of them a fighting chance at a comfortable, happy life. To read more about "culling" and our take on it, please view this link.
We decided to buy the BunnyVac vaccination for our herd and procrastinated using it. Then, we went through the situation where our herd moved to Naples, FL with another breeder temporarily. That was a mess to say the least. Too many issues came up down there but to stay on topic, we are convinced that colonizing our rabbits down there, possibly brought out the symptoms of Pasteurella once again. The only thing I must make clear is that none of the herd was ever tested for Pasteurella. There was never any proof given to me that backed up this claim. When forced, the rabbitry owner took two bunnies to her vet and they "LOOKED" at them, did NOT culture them. Another rabbit who passed away was sent to the state lab for a necropsy. Necropsy report did NOT mention Pasteurella at all. This made me question the person in FL because she claimed pasteurella killed over 100 newborns that she irresponsibly bred for all at once. She even told me a necropsy report stated the cause of death was pasteurella. When forced to give me a copy of this report, a review by another state licensed veterinarian was done and found that it had nothing to do with pasteurella (death due to impacted stomach burst likely from dehydration which equals neglect). With no sound proof, we cannot say pasteurella was a factor in that mess at all.
At that time, I was kicking myself for never giving them all the vaccination before hand though! With this being said, we have made the decision to now to administer the BunnyVac vaccination to all of our breeding stock. We found out about this vaccination through a facebook group and weighed our options. We found no reason why NOT to give our rabbits an extra boost in keeping this bacteria under control. We do not eat our rabbits (a reason why some breeders refuse to use this vaccination). Our rabbits are used as pets, therapy bunnies, fiber bunnies, breeding livestock, and for showing.
This is an annual vaccination. We now give every new bunny coming into our rabbitry the BunnyVac vaccination during their quarantine period. We will update this page as time passes so we can inform the public of our opinion of BunnyVac. The most current info will be posted at the bottom of this page.
The photos above are screenshots of the laboratory website for where you can purchase this vaccination. If you click on the photo, it will redirect you to that page off of their website. Here is also a link to the full BunnyVac Clinical Trial Summary:
These are just some of the things that can bring about symptoms of Patuerella in rabbits:
We periodically add to this page. We have recently found that there are some rabbits that can become immune to this bacterium, although a lot of rabbits are not. Actually, this could be cases of rabbits with stronger immune systems (what everyone wants). Because we are not veterinarians, we are not going to post any information about treatment (there are plenty of websites out there on this subject). First, make sure you have a proper diagnoses by either a veterinarian visit or culture the animal and send off to lab. Do not just assume you have Pasteurella because a rabbit is sneezing. It could be something else causing the symptoms you are seeing.
Pavlab also sells Culturettes where you can swab the bunny nasal cavity and send back to the lab for results. This is a wonderful service that I am so happy we found! We bought some of the Culturettes (pictured above) and paid just $4 a piece for them to have on hand. We were told that it cost $45 to send into the lab for testing. This didn't seem to be expensive, considering no visit to the vet was involved. Please keep in mind that this price was the current price for when I inquired. They could change prices and I didn't update the info here. Click on the photo to go to the direct link/page where you can order these!
If you are interested, we found a few websites, other than Pavlab's, that discusses the BunnyVac vaccination for rabbits. I read on this site that you can even use the BunnyVac as a treatment (no guarantees). The author of this article believes that this vaccination masks Pasteurella and would make it difficult for the owners to tell which rabbits are the strong/weak ones in the rabbitry. Therefore, she does not recommend vaccinating show rabbits. I only post this here because there are some who believe it is a great tool and some that would never think of using the BunnyVac. Hopefully, what I provide here will be helpful to you in forming your own opinion of the use of BunnyVac in your rabbitry or pet.
This is a website where someone documented their experience with using the BunnyVac. Although this rabbitry is no longer administering the BunnyVac to their herd, they do not document any negativity on the use in this article. In fact, the author stated that they never had any problems when using it. They slowed down on showing so they didn't want to add the expense (unless headed to a show). I found it to be one of the better articles out there right now. It appears this was written in 2014 and the latest comments from 2019. In 2014, the vaccination was still very new so this article covers a lot of Q & A if you want to take the time to read it.
Here is a link that defines Pasteurella and states that "BunnyVac is a USDA-licensed vaccine (USDA Code: 2701.02) which can prevent Pasteurella infections in rabbits."
I only decided to post this as an additional reference because I have seen old, outdated writings on the internet that have stated that BunnyVac is not USDA license when it actually is.
So we have been using the BunnyVac now for a full year. I am very pleased to say, we have NOT had any symptomatic rabbits for Pasteurella! Lots of moving around, kindling, and new arrivals have happened along with healthy and asymptomatic rabbits! We have increased our use as well. Not only do we administer the BunnyVac to all of our ever increasing herd, we now vaccinate all of our offspring once they turn six weeks old. If they are still here when the second dose is due (30 days after the first dose), they receive it as well. For little money, we keep a clean, sneeze free zone.
We have seen some reactions at the site of the injection. Some rabbits will get a hard ball that sometimes can to rise to the surface of the skin and seep. Some have had a knot under the skin that eventually goes away. This is the first side effect we have noticed. Not bad!!!
We have also added an additional page to our website recently. Please understand that not every sneeze or snotty nose is Pasteurella. Some are quick to hard cull and assume. We had an experience with two separate bacteria's that caused these same symptoms. After using the BunnyVac and seeing no improvement, we reached out to the creator of the BunnyVac. This resulted in him helping us get to the bottom of the mystery. Please read about it if you are interested: Bacterial Infections
We have continued into the new year 2021 with every bunny receiving at least one dose of the BunnyVac soon after they turn 6 weeks of age. We are seeing about 1 out of 10 getting an abscess at the site of the injection (asmentioned above). Everyone says that bunnies have such thin skin. Sometimes I have to disagree with this comment. There are times that I have a hard time getting a tiny gage needle through that skin! These may be the ones that grow an abscess at the injection site. I’m not sure. I wonder if I do not get the serum in the right area (I just don't have an answer).
I have seen this abscess grow until it opens and drains. I have also seen it shrink and go away. We have not had any issues with infection on any of these but always keep and eye on it and clean it if this happens.
The latest side effect we have noticed is sneezing. Healthy babies that are not sneezing, seem to start sneezing a small amount of times after they have received the vaccination. We just want to let everyone know where this comes from if you hear a sneeze from your new bunny. Our rabbitry is snuffles free so please do not be alarmed. However, as with any new bunny entering your herd, always quarantine regardless. We did check with a few other breeders that we know are using the BunnyVac and they confirmed the same findings.
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