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Rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) is caused by a type of calicivirus which is fatal in rabbits that are not vaccinated. There are different strains of the virus, with another being released to control the wild rabbit population in early March 2017 (RHDVK5). Rabbit owners should be sure their rabbits are up to date with their vaccinations, currently recommended to be done every 6 months.
The vaccination available does not cover all strains of the virus, so additional measures need to be taken to reduce the risk of pet rabbits being exposed.
What are the symptoms of RHDV?
Calici Virus damages internal organs such as the liver and intestines and may cause bleeding. Signs include fever, restlessness, lethargy and poor appetite. Bleeding from the nose and/or blood on the floor where rabbits are housed can be noticed, where some rabbits will show no signs and pass away suddenly. If your rabbit is showing any signs of illness, please contact us immediately. There is no cure for calicivirus but affected rabbits can be given supportive treatment.
What are the symptoms of Calici Virus?
The virus is spread is faeces, urine, secretions from the eyes and nose along with mating. Spread can also occur from contaminated objects such as food, cages, insects (especially flies), birds and rodents. The virus can survive in the environment for over 3 months and longer in warmer temperatures.
How can I protect my rabbit against the different strains of calicivirus?
Strain RHDV1 - The vaccine is effective against this strain of the virus.
Strain RHDVK5 - The current evidence indicated that the vaccine will provide some protection against this strain, but until further studies are dons, owners are advised that the vaccine may not provide full protection.
Strain RHDV2 - No vaccine is available in Australia that protects against this strain. Vaccination is not considered to provide protection against this strain.
How can i further protect my rabbit?
Because the virus can remain in the environment for an extended period of time and it can be transmitted through objects and some insects, the following precautions may assist in minimising the risk of infection:
- Keep your pet rabbit indoors
- Rabbit-proof your yard to prevent wild rabbits from entering
- Limit contact with unfamiliar rabbits and wash your hands, clothing and shoes.
- Use revolution for the control of fleas
- Control flies as much as possible, the use of a mosquito net can help with this
- General hygiene, keeping their hutch clean and removing any uneaten food within 24 hours.
Please call us on 02 49696852 for any questions.
I so appreciate the wonderful and knowledgeable staff. Skilled, attentive and caring - thanks Dr Chris for your kind and thoughtful handling of a difficult decision!
Meri M. / Hamilton, New South Wales