We are happy to announce that we now have the vaccine to protect rabbits against Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease in-stock and ready to use. If you already have an appointment or wish to schedule a yearly wellness appointment during our regular business hours, the vaccine can be administered at that time.
In addition to providing the vaccine during regular health exams, over the next few months we will be hosting special events to provide the vaccine outside of our normal business hours. There are two events scheduled at this point.
Saturday October 30th between 1pm and 4pm
Saturday November 13th between 1pm and 4pm
by Appointment Only
Because of the special hours and staffing required for this event, we are requiring pre-payment for the cost of the exam and vaccine. When you call to make the appointment, we will take a deposit for the costs that will then be applied on the day your rabbit gets their vaccine. The cost for the exam and vaccine for established clients of Healthy Pet will be $55 and the cost for non-clients of Healthy Pet will be $65.
Your rabbit will need to come back in 21-28 days for a booster of the original vaccine. That booster vaccine can be given by one of our technicians and the cost for the booster will be $25 for both clients and non-clients. There will not be a need to pre-pay for the booster vaccine. The vaccine will then be administered to your rabbit on a yearly basis.
The State of Wisconsin is highly recommending, but not requiring that rabbits that receive the vaccine be microchipped to document that a particular rabbit received the vaccine. If your rabbit is social and has, "play dates" some organizations that sponsor these events may require that your rabbit be microchipped in the future. If you would like us to place a microchip during your appointment, the cost is $40. Please call us at 608-294-9494 if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment for this special event.
What is Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease?
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is a highly contagious disease caused by a calicivirus that affects rabbits. This includes wild and domesticated European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), from which our own domesticated rabbits are descended. Until 2020, it had not been known to affect North American native rabbits or hares, such as cottontails, snowshoe hares, and jackrabbits however RHDV is causing death in those wildlife species of rabbits as well.
RHDV2, most recent strain of RHDV emerged in 2010 and quickly spread in Europe and the Mediterranean, and has replaced the original strain in many countries. In 2015, RHDV2 was first detected in Australia – it spread coast-to-coast in the rabbit population there in just 18 months. (~3 million square miles, compared to United States’ ~3.8 million square miles) and became the dominant strain replacing RHDV1.
RHDV is often a very swift and sudden killer, giving little warning. Rabbits may die without showing any symptoms at all. Any sudden rabbit death is suspicious and should be reported to your veterinarian as a possible case of RHDV.
Symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- High fever
- Bleeding from nose, mouth, or rectum
- Difficulty breathing
- Sudden death
- RHDV1 1-3 days. Rabbits may die within 12-36 hours to a few weeks, after the onset of symptoms.
- RHDV2 3-5 days. Previous experimental RHDV2 infection found incubation of 3-9 days until onset of symptoms, then death within 3-5 days.
- Death Rate (Mortality)
- RHDV1 40-100%
- RHDV2 5-80%+. In the 2020 Southwest US and Mexico RHDV2 outbreak, officials report a death rate of about 90%.
- Survivors: Rabbits who survive RHDV are carriers and shed the virus for at least 42 days, perhaps longer.
- Asymptomatic Carriers: Some rabbits may have little to no symptoms of RHDV2 (subclinical/asymptomatic) but may shed virus for up to 2 months.
- Transmission Routes: Rabbits are infected by oral, nasal/respiratory, or ocular exposure to the virus, or by blood-feeding insects.
- Cause of Death: RHDV causes necrotizing hepatitis, and may cause necrosis of the spleen. There may be internal or externally visible bleeding. Death occurs from liver failure or hemorrhage due to an impairment in the blood’s ability to clot.
- Durability of Virus
Rabbit calicivirus is a very hardy virus, remaining viable in the environment outside a host.
- Survives 105 days at 68F on fabric – it remains stable for 3.5 months at room temperature
- Survives 225 days at 39F (just above freezing temperatures)
- Survives freeze/thaw cycles
- Survives heat of 122F for one hour
- Seasonal Outbreaks: Where the virus has a reservoir in wild rabbits or feral/stray domestic rabbits, seasonal outbreaks are expected year to year. In Australia, outbreaks start in fall and winter, peak in spring, and are mostly absent in summer. Seasonal fly abundance, as flies are a significant vector, may be linked with RHDV activity.
- There is no known cure for RHDV
- RHDV treatment is supportive care in isolation
- There are currently no known effective anti-viral drugs or other treatments available
For more information, see the following RHVD Fact Sheet