Laurelwood Veterinary Clinic
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Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus
What is it?
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is a highly contagious, fatal disease found in both wild hares and domesticated pet rabbits. There is currently no cure for RHDV, and the only protection is vaccination against it. Treatment for RHDV is isolation and supportive care, with a low rate of survival.
Symptoms can include:
- Loss of appetite/decreased appetite
- Jaundiced appearance
- Trouble breathing
- Bleeding from nose, mouth, or rectum
Rabbits may show some, all, or none of these symptoms. Sudden rabbit death should be taken seriously, and should be reported to your vet as a possible RHDV death.
How could my bunny contract it?
There are multiple ways your rabbit can be exposed to RHDV. The most common way a rabbit can contract RHDV is through direct contact with another infected rabbit's urine or feces. If your rabbit spends time in a yard where a wild rabbit may have had access, they are at risk. Other ways the disease is spread include:
- Direct contact with an infected rabbit
- Contact with infected items (clothing, shoes, hay, etc.)
- Ingesting contaminated food or water
- Contact with another animal (dogs, cats, etc.) that has had contact with the virus
Where has RHDV been reported?
California cases of RHDV have been reported this year in Palm Springs (Riverside County), Yucca Valley (San Bernardino County), Poway (San Diego County), and San Clemente (Orange County). While California has placed a quarantine on rabbits entering the state, there is little way of limiting the spread in the areas it has already reached.
How do I get my rabbit vaccinated?
While our clinic is not carrying the vaccine, there are a limited number of bay area pet hospitals that are. Visit https://www.rhdv2.com/california to find a clinic offering the vaccine near you.
More information can be found at https://rabbit.org/rhdv/#what-is-rhdv
Article by the New Yorker at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/07/06/the-rabbit-outbreak