(Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease)
Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease is also known as Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease and has several acronyms: RHD, RVHD, VHD and RHD1. This virus is extremely contagious and sadly once a rabbit is infected it is almost always fatal.
Signs are often difficult to detect because RHD can kill a rabbit very quickly, which is why any sudden rabbit death should be regarded as suspicious.
RHD causes bleeding to the internal organs of the rabbit so if signs are seen these can include:
- A fever
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Blood stained discharge from the nose or mouth
- Seizures (fits)
The RHD virus is very resistant and can remain active in the environment for many months. It can be transmitted through both direct and indirect contact. Transmission is quick and does not require prolonged contact; an infected rabbit can pass the virus directly to another by nose to nose contact or via food bowls, bedding, urine and faeces.
Humans, insects, birds and rodents can all also spread the virus to rabbits if they have been in contact with infected rabbits.