MILTON KEYNES, England, September 29 /PRNewswire/ --

- With Photo

A reminder has gone out to rabbit owners who took part in the first ever National Vaccination Month (March 2008) that they will need to vaccinate their pets this month in order to maintain immunity to myxomatosis.

Under the National Vaccination Month campaign owners of unvaccinated or overdue pet rabbits were offered a free dose of vaccine to protect their pets against myxomatosis - the first was given in March and the second is due now.

Currently less than one in ten owners ensure their rabbit is vaccinated against myxomatosis, a devastating killer disease spread by biting insects, which appears to be on the increase.

A spokesman for Intervet / Schering-Plough Animal Health, which instigated the campaign, said: "Traditionally myxomatosis was a seasonal disease and rabbits underwent strategic annual vaccination.

"However, with the profile of the disease changing, and following our recent history of warm wet summers, we recommend twice yearly vaccination for optimal protection. Therefore we are offering a second free dose now for all those rabbits whose owners took part in the scheme back in March."

Note to Editors:

An estimated 1.8 million pet rabbits (90% of pop) are unvaccinated leaving them at risk of a range of fatal diseases, many of which are untreatable.

National Vaccination Month was instigated in response to an increase in the number of unvaccinated cats, dogs and rabbits and designed to raise awareness amongst the pet-owning public of the importance and necessity to vaccinate their pets to protect them against potentially fatal diseases.

A vaccine initiative was run during March 2008 enabling pet owners to vaccinate overdue pets for a substantially reduced cost via a website generated voucher system.

During the campaign

* 2,104 vet practices registered to take part

* 32,000 vouchers were redeemed with 32,000 additional animals vaccinated

Case study: Panda - the rabbit who survived killer disease

When the Gaskin family's beloved pet rabbit Panda developed a lump on her nose in August 2007, they whisked her straight to their neighbourhood veterinary practice, Taverham Veterinary Surgery near Norwich.

Despite the practice being in the midst of a surge in cases of myxomatosis, the killer disease was not initially suspected.

Practice receptionist Janice Weaver said: "Panda saw one of our nurses regarding a lump on her nose and small one in her ear. The vet checked Panda and myxomatosis was not suspected at first as there was no swelling of the genitals and the eyes were fine.

"However, a myxomatosis vaccination was given as a precaution and the vet advised a check up for the following week (prior to this Panda had had only ever had one Myxomatosis vaccine in Sept 2005). Four days later Panda was brought back as the lump appeared to be growing. The vet thought the lump on the nose looked like a tumour and advised a biopsy - the results came back as myxomatosis.

"During the period 1st June to 24th September 2007 Taverham Veterinary Surgery put 44 rabbits to sleep, most of them for myxomatosis. Fortunately, Panda was one of the lucky ones and survived. She continues to be fine, her nose has gone back to normal and she received a myxomatosis booster in February of this year."

Schering-Plough is an innovation-driven, science-centred global health care company. Through its own biopharmaceutical research and collaborations with partners, Schering-Plough creates therapies that help save and improve lives around the world. The company applies its research-and-development platform to human prescription and consumer products as well as to animal health products. Schering-Plough's vision is to "Earn Trust, Every Day" with the doctors, patients, customers and other stakeholders served by its colleagues around the world. The company is based in Kenilworth, N.J., and its website is

Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health is a leading animal health company. In the UK it is based in Milton Keynes. Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health is dedicated to the research and development of high quality innovative animal health products and providing industry-leading technical support and customer service. For more information visit the following website:

Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health is the trading name of Intervet UK Ltd

A picture accompanying this release is available through the PA Photowire. It can be downloaded from or viewed at or

Media Contact: Diana Rhodes, Blue Zebra PR, +44 (0)1865-861600, +44-(0)7767-370148 or Elizabeth Peplow +44-(0)7825-082595