Sadly we have experienced several sudden deaths in rabbits this week from a nasty viral infection.
Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD), also known as Rabbit Calicivirus Disease (RCD) or Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD), and referred herein as RHD, is a highly infectious and fatal disease that affects both wild and domestic rabbits. The infectious agent responsible for the disease is a Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease virus (RHDV), or Rabbit Calicivirus (RCV). The virus causes clinical disease in rabbits, and has been used in some countries to control rabbit populations. However, there are now two distinct viral strains; RHD-1 and, the new RHD-2 in the UK.
The original strain (RHD-1), endemic in the UK, was brought under relative control through preventative vaccination. This vaccine has been available for some time and is highly effective at preventing RHD-1 infections. Protection agains RHD-1 is found in our Nobivac Myxi-RHD vaccination that we have routinely been using at the Barn.
So what is RHD-2?
RHD-2 is a variant form of the original RHD-1 virus and differs in the following ways.
Rabbits infected with the RHD-2 virus typically DO NOT show the symptoms that are common with RHD-1 infection so it is far more difficult to diagnose from simple observations.
Death from RHD-2 occurs suddenly and without warning: typically this is 3-9 days following infection and can last up to 5 days, infected rabbits show few clinical signs of illness but are suddenly found dead. If found before they die they are often collapsed and jaundiced.
In mainland Europe, RHD-2 is now very common particularly in France where it was first identified in 2010 and spread country-wide where it was mainly transmitted through the wild rabbit population with cross-over with domestic rabbits.
NOBIVAC MYXI-RHD DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST THE NEW RHD-2 STRAIN. WE HAVE BEEN VACCINATING RABBITS WITH FILAVAC-RHD2 VACCINE FOR THE LAST YEAR TO TRY AND PROTECT AGAINST THIS DEVISTATING DISEASE. IF YOUR RABBITS HAVE NOT YET RECIEVED A RHD-2 VACCINATION WE URGE YOU TO CONTACT THE BARN AS A MATTER OF URGENCY. SADLY THERE IS NO TREATMENT OR CURE ONCE A RABBIT IS AFFECTED. VACCINATION IS THE ONLY PROTECTION CURRENTLY AVAILABLE.