Rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease is a highly contagious viral disease that affects both wild and domestic rabbits. It’s caused by the calicivirus, which belongs to the caliciviridae virus family. The virus spreads rapidly through direct contact or through contaminated objects such as food bowls, water bottles, clothing and bedding. Hemorrhagic disease can cause serious health problems in rabbits, including fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, the virus can be fatal.
The virus is spread by direct contact with infected rabbits or through contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. It can also be spread through the air on tiny droplets of saliva or mucus produced by an infected rabbit.
It’s important to keep wild and domestic rabbits away from each other and to not allow wild rabbis access to feeders, water boils or anything else that can contaminate domestic rabbits. Preventive measures can help reduce the risk of hemorrhagic disease in both wild and domestic rabies.
Symptoms of Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
The most common symptoms of Rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease in rabbits include:
- Appetite loss
- Difficulty breathing
Some rabbits will also have eye or mouth discharge, skin lesions, and even seizures. If left untreated, the virus can be fatal.
Diagnosing Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
RCD can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are often similar to those of other diseases. Veterinarians might need to perform tests such as a complete blood count, biochemical profile, or tissue sample in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
Stages of Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
Rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease has three stages: Incubation, Acute, and Chronic.
The Incubation period lasts for approximately two weeks and during this time the virus is multiplying within the rabbit’s body. During this period, the rabbit might not have any signs of illness.
The Acute stage begins when the rabbit becomes ill. The rabbit’s symptoms can include fever, appetite loss, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms can last for up to two weeks and can develop into a more serious form of the disease in some cases.
The Chronic stage is when the virus has been in the rabbit’s body for an extended period of time and has caused damage to their internal organs. This stage can be fatal if not treated quickly.
Treating Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
Treating Rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease can be challenging, as the virus is highly contagious and can be difficult to diagnose. Treatment typically involves supportive care, such as fluids and antibiotics, to help reduce the severity of symptoms. In severe cases, euthanasia will be recommended in order to prevent further suffering. Vaccines are also available for domestic rabbits; however, they are not effective against wild rabbits and therefore cannot prevent the spread of this disease.
Preventing Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
The best way to prevent Rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease is to keep wild and domestic rabbits separate and to not allow wild rabbits access to feeders, water bottles, clothing or bedding. Vaccines can also help reduce the risk of this disease in domestic rabbit populations.