Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (RVHD) is a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease that affects rabbits. It’s caused by a virus known as Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV). The virus has been found in many countries around the world, including Europe, North America, South America, and Japan. RVHD can affect both wild and domestic rabbits, and is especially deadly in young animals.
RVHD is typically spread through contact with an infected rabbit, either directly or through contaminated food, water, and bedding. The virus can also be transmitted through insect bites or contact with other animals that have been exposed to the virus. It’s important to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of infection in rabbits, such as avoiding contact with wild rabbits and keeping pet rabbits indoors. Vaccines are available to help protect against RVHD, but they’re not 100 percent effective.
RVHD can cause severe losses in the rabbit industry, as well as devastating losses of wild rabbit populations. If you have any questions about RVHD or how to protect your pet rabbits from infection, contact your local veterinarian for more information.
Symptoms of Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
Symptoms of RVHD vary, but typically include:
- Appetite loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Pale mucous membranes
- Red urine
Some rabbits will also have nosebleeds and sudden death without any other signs of illness. If you think that your rabbit has been infected with RVHD, contact your veterinarian immediately for diagnosis and treatment.
In addition to getting veterinary care as soon as possible, it’s important to properly dispose of any infected rabbits and their bedding or other materials they have come into contact with. This will help reduce the spread of the virus.
Diagnosing Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
RVHD can be difficult to diagnose, as many of the symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses. A laboratory test is needed to confirm the presence of the virus. Your veterinarian will collect a sample from your rabbit, such as an oral swab or blood sample, and send it to a laboratory for testing. If RVHD is confirmed, your veterinarian could recommend euthanasia in order to prevent further spread of the virus.
Stages of Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (RVHD) progresses through three stages: incubation, acute, and chronic.
During the incubation stage, the virus is present in the rabbit’s body but there are no visible signs of infection. This stage can last between 1 and 16 days.
During the acute stage, the rabbit will start to have signs such as fever, appetite loss, and difficulty breathing. This stage usually lasts for 2 to 5 days.
The chronic stage can last up to two weeks and is associated with poor body condition, anemia, jaundice, and death.
Treating Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment for RVHD. The best way to protect your rabbits from this virus is prevention. Vaccinating against RVHD is the most effective way to protect against this disease. In addition, it’s important to practice good hygiene and care when dealing with rabbits, such as avoiding contact with wild rabbits and practicing good biosecurity measures in order to reduce the risk of infection.
Preventing Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
The best way to prevent RVHD is through vaccination. Vaccines are available for both wild and domestic rabbits, and should be administered by a qualified veterinarian. In addition, it’s important to practice good hygiene and biosecurity measures when dealing with rabbits in order to reduce the risk of infection. This includes avoiding contact with wild rabbits, keeping pets indoors, and regularly cleaning cages and other supplies.