Q: What is Rabbit Hemorrhage Disease?
A: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is a fatal disease in rabbits caused by Calicivirus (not Coronavirus). It affects both wild and domesticated rabbits. It has been rare in the U.S. with episodic outbreaks over the past 20 years. With the current outbreak, it has been found in Colorado, Texas, Arizona and Nevada. Most recently, cases have been found in wild rabbits in the Palm Springs area.
The incubation period is one to five days. It causes fever, anorexia, lethargy, and spontaneous bleeding, and even death. It is NOT contagious to people. Rabbits acquire the virus through ingestion, inhalation, or through wounds. It persists in the environment for several months. Keep your rabbits indoors and restrict visitors to your rabbits. Vaccines are available outside the U.S., and we are attempting to see if the USDA will allow us to import the vaccine.
Paws and Claws Column:
By Dr. Frank Lavac
MS, DVM, VCA
He can be reached at his office at VCA Wilshire Animal Hospital, 310-828-4587.