How to deal with possible contagions.It has been a long sad and scary week. I'm going to preface this with all tests came back negative, but I want to record my experience so others know what to do If you suspect there is even the most remote possibility that one of your rabbits may of contracted RHVD2.I live in southern Indiana , and as of yet we have not had an outbreak within 250 miles of our homestead, but due to the nature of this illness every one in the rabbit community has been vigilant. ARBA has several rule to follow on how they are conduction rabbit shows, we have maps an hot spot lists . quarantine and restricted areas . So to review .
What is RHVD2?"Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is a highly contagious disease caused by a calicivirus. Previous to 2020 it was assumed that the virus only affected rabbits of the Oryctolagus cuniculus species. This includes wild and domestic European rabbits, which our domesticated rabbits are descended from. However, a new variant of the virus is now able to infect North American native rabbits or hares, such as our cottontails, snowshoe hares, or jackrabbits. Based on ongoing outbreaks within the USA the ARBA has the following recommendations. This policy will be constantly monitored and can be modified as needed per USDA guidelines and recommendations." ARBA: RHVD2 and your Herd
RHVD originated in China"The three strains of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus of medical significance are RHDV, RHDVa and RHDV2. RHDV (also referred to as RHDV, RHDV1, or as classical RHD) only affects adult European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). This virus was first reported in China in 1984, from which it spread to much of Asia, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. A few isolated outbreaks of RHDV have occurred in the United States and Mexico, but they remained localized and were eradicated." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_hemorrhagic_disease
How it Presents"In peracute cases, rabbits are usually found dead with no premonitory symptoms. Rabbits may be observed grazing normally immediately before death. In acute cases, rabbits are inactive and reluctant to move. They may develop a fever up to 42 °C (107.6 °F) and have increased heart and respiratory rates. Bloody discharge from the nose, mouth, or vulva is common, as is blood in the feces or urine. Lateral recumbency, coma, and convulsions may be observed before death. Rabbits with the acute form generally die within 12 to 36 hours from the onset of fever. Subacute to chronic RHD has a more protracted clinical course, and is more commonly noted with RHDV2 infections. Clinical signs include lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, and jaundice. Gastrointestinal dilation, cardiac arrhythmias, heart murmurs, and neurologic abnormalities can also occur. Death, if it occurs, usually happens 1–2 weeks after the onset of symptoms, and is due to liver failure. Not all rabbits exposed to RHDVa or RHDV2 become overtly ill. A small proportion of infected rabbits clears the virus without developing signs of disease. Asymptomatic carriers also occur, and can continue to shed virus for months, thereby infecting other animals. Surviving rabbits develop a strong immunity to the specific viral variant with which they were infected." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_hemorrhagic_disease After reading the Above let me tell you a little about our case, Ritz was alive and well Sunday Afternoon around 4 PM, I had been away on a trip and our Farmhand was watching our animals. He had just checked in on her and the 9 babies she was mothering. I arrived home at 6:30 PM and when we walked out to check the rabbits, Ritz was found Prone , on her back, dead with Riggor already setting in. Time of Death can be assumed to be around 5:30PM . All my other rabbis were fine.
I have not been to an auction or show in over 3 weeks. The rabbit who passed was not off the property. I use wire cages at least 3 feet off the ground . The only new rabbit came from a clean Rabbitry, and has been in the quarantine cage for at least a week and is cared for last . Her death was unexpected and since peracute cases of RHVD2 presents with no warning we were unable to immediately rule that out even though we didn't have any obvious vectors. That being said I had heard reports of a few rabbitry's having contacted it from hay they had brought in and it wiped out the entire herd. I did open Ritz up to see if I could figure out what cause of death may of been, upon initial necropsy her intestines looked full but not bloated , or the and odd color. She had a decent amount of fat accumulated, even though she was currently nursing 9 kits so was being free fed . Liver looked normal no white spots, mostly the correct color Except , I did find 2 tears in the upper part of the back of one lobe indicating possible Liver torsion. Upon opening chest cavity. It was completely full of blood . Note: she was found on her back so not sure if it just pooled that way . Did find a large spongy clot sitting in the chest cavity . Heart looked intact, lungs were questionable . Because of the unexpected amount of blood found in her chest cavity I called the state vet to collect samples to rule out RHVD. If you have a rabbit that presents like this , just test it. The state vet will not judge you, and honestly Jodi said that she'd rather test 100 negative rabbits from over cautious breeders and owners , then someone be complacent and it spread here.When Jodi arrived to collect the liver sample from Ritz it was about 10:30 at night on Monday , she walked me through what to look for that indicates it IS RHVD. First she looked around the abdominal cavity looking over the intestines for any blotchy, and red spots that would indicate hemorrhage, she said that RHVD will present often as hemorrhages in internal organs , so she looked over the liver for spots and dark patches , spidering and blood clots, she found none, next she opened up the heart again looking for any noticeable internal bleeding or dark spots that would indicate hemorrhage. Finally she dissected the kidneys to look for the same. upon inspection of her organs Ritz appeared all clear. The final assessment that was done was pinching the ribs to test for body condition, Ritz had good condition, what they are looking for is emaciated or thin rabbits since RHVD2 they tend to be weak and stop eating. Jodi took the liver to test and they overnighted it to the Lab. I got my results back today around 5:22 PM that all test were negative and my herd was cleared . At this point in time we are assuming death was caused by liver torsion or a similar mechanical failure or injury.
What should you do If you suspect RHVD is even a remote possibility?Call the State vet . FAQ American Rabbit Breeders Association North Americans RHDV2 Group Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease News Network
you can check with your local Agricultural Extension or APHIS in your state .