RHDV is a deadly disease that can infect rabbits via a virus and affects the liver and blood vessels. The virus belongs to the calicivirus family and can remain in the environment for up to 3.5 months. It is capable of surviving both freezing and very hot temperatures. The original strain emerged in China in 1984, with a second strain called RDHV2 found in France in 2010. It has continued to spread throughout Europe and now the US and Western Canada. RDHV2 is worrisome for rabbit owners because it is easily spread through direct contact with an infected rabbit, their feces or other bodily fluids, as well as through contaminated items such as bedding and clothes. While this virus does not affect other animals, they can act as a route for the transmission of the virus if they have been in contact with an infected rabbit. RHDV2 is also not zoonotic, meaning it can’t be transmitted to humans, so there is no concern of owners catching this virus from their rabbits. Once a rabbit catches RHDV2 they will likely show signs within 1-9 days. Unfortunately at this time there is no cure for this disease and so treatment involves providing supportive care for the affected rabbit. Rabbits that are fortunate to survive RHDV2, will continue to shed the virus for at least 42 days if not longer. It is also very difficult to detect the disease early on as signs can start suddenly and progress to death very quickly.
Symptoms: • Fever • Shortness of breath • Loss of appetite • Listlessness • Neurological signs such paddling, seizures, and paralysis • Jaundice • Blood spots in eyes • Sudden death • Bleeding from nose at time of death
Cases: As of 2022, Ontario has detected it’s first cases of RHDV in domestic rabbits. There is currently no spread of disease in the wild rabbit population that we are aware of.
OMAFRA Industry Report: Industry update: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (gov.on.ca)
Preventative Measures: There are a variety of preventative measures that are recommended for owners to implement, especially if they are in an area where an outbreak has arisen. • Keep rabbits
indoors • Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before and after interacting with rabbits • Change clothes after being outside and leave shoes at the entrance of your home • Clean and disinfect cages regularly as well as any bowls or toys • Avoid interacting with rabbits with an unknown history • Quarantine any new rabbits in your home for 10 days and keep their items away from other rabbits in the household • Avoid bringing plant material inside
Disinfectants: The most effective disinfectants are: bleach (1:10 dilution), potassium peroxymonosulfate (Virkon), and accelerated hydrogen peroxide (Prevail, Accel, and Peroxigard). Note
that common household cleaners will NOT kill the virus.
Vaccines: Lynwood Animal Hospital has obtained a limited supply of vaccines from our European counterparts. We are currently offering these vaccines to those who have a current Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship with our hospital. A single vaccine is given with yearly boosters. Due to the limited supply, we are reaching out to clients who are eligible based on our protocols. Please do not contact us unless you have received a message that your bunnies are eligible.