Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus

Written and Edited by Jerry Suddeth, DVM

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHV, RHDV) is a very contagious, fatal, reportable foreign animal disease that as of December 2021 has been reported in Kentucky.  This virus infects both domestic and wild rabbits.   RHDV does not infect other animals, nor does it impact human health.  Clinical signs include fever, decreased appetite, respiratory signs, neurologic signs, bleeding from nose / mouth / ears etc., and / or sudden death.

RHDV can be spread via direct transmission rabbit-to-rabbit, or indirectly via contact with other animals / items that have been in contact with an infected rabbit (food, water, bedding, transport carrier, etc.).  No specific treatment exists.  Prevention and vaccination are the best approach for management.

There is a RHDV vaccine available for administration under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) – meaning the vaccine has not gained full FDA approval currently.  Crestwood Animal Hospital has the RHDV vaccine available and in stock.  The vaccine consists of 2 doses that are to be given 21 days apart.  Vaccination can start at 4 weeks of age.  Full immunity is gained approximately 14 days after booster.   Vaccine side effects include vaccination site swelling (<48 hours) and /or transient fever.  More information about the RHDV vaccine can be found at the manufacturer’s website www.medgenelabs.com/rhdv2/.

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