Rabbit house owners be cautious of dangers of RHDV2

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Dr. Cynthia Matro

Most of the articles I write cope with pet dogs and cats, however I additionally care for a lot of different species of companion animals, together with pet rabbits.

Pet rabbits want checkups, monitoring of their dental well being, pores and skin, coat, vitamin and nail care. In August, a comparatively new illness in rabbits was recognized in a home rabbit facility in Fayette County. Current developments and the development of this infectious illness, generally known as RHDV-2, have precipitated concern for house owners of lagomorphs (bunnies). 

Homeowners of pet rabbits have been instructed for years that no vaccines are wanted for his or her fluffy companions, however just lately that has modified with the event of a vaccine for a illness referred to as RHVD2, or Rabbit Hemorrhagic Illness Virus Sort 2. 

RHVD2 is attributable to a virus within the household of viruses generally known as pathogenic calicivirus. This new pressure of RHVD was first present in 2010 in France. In 2018, the virus was present in rabbits in Ohio. One other case was detected in 2018 in Washington state. As of 2020, the virus, which is commonly deadly earlier than any indicators are evident, had unfold throughout the southwest USA and Mexico. 

The extremely contagious (between rabbits) virus impacts the liver, inflicting the liver cells referred to as hepatocytes to die off quickly. This will result in a situation referred to as DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation), which causes the physique to make use of up clotting components resulting in huge inner hemorrhage. Hepatic encephalopathy (mind results from the buildup of poisons within the blood) may happen. One other impact is nephrosis, which signifies that the kidneys may turn out to be affected by the RHVD2.  

Indicators of the virus are normally not famous, because the rabbits die shortly from the situation. As soon as rabbits are contaminated, there isn’t any identified remedy. Controlling the virus is difficult as a result of folks can carry the virus, unknowingly, on their sneakers and clothes if they’ve walked in an space the place blood, excretions, carcasses, or meals or water of an contaminated rabbit have been, even lengthy after a rabbit has died. Homeowners who stroll by means of areas the place wild contaminated rabbits have been can carry an lively virus on their sneakers; if a wild rabbit died because of the virus, the realm the place it died and decomposed can have viral organisms stay infectious by means of warmth and freezing circumstances for so long as 3-4 months. 

Merchandise like Clorox family wipes DO NOT kill or inactivate the virus. Disinfection requires using 10% bleach answer (this can be a actually sturdy answer) and a minimum of 10 minutes of contact time earlier than rinsing. Disinfection additionally requires that the realm be completely cleaned of all natural materials and stays of animals which have died from the virus.  

Mortality charges are between 70-100%. Because of this for each 10 rabbits contaminated 7-10 of them will die — that’s, in the event that they haven’t been vaccinated. The vaccine seems to be offering good immune safety. I’ve been vaccinating pet rabbits this yr and to date, haven’t seen any reactions in vaccinated bunnies and not one of the vaccinated pets have contracted the viruses. 

In rabbits that don’t die quickly, RHDV2 signs are severe and embrace fever, lethargy, inner bleeding, lack of urge for food, respiratory problem, blue-tinged gums and organ failure. RT-qPCR and ELISA assessments are generally used assessments to establish the virus in affected rabbits. Put up-death or postmortem samples of the liver will also be used to ID the virus. 

Vaccinating rabbits as early as 30 days of age helps stop an infection. Most house owners don’t buy or undertake their bunnies till they’re 8 weeks of age, so seeing a vet, quickly after adoption, who cares for rabbits and carries the RHDV2 vaccine is necessary. When you have a pet rabbit, ensure to not introduce any new rabbits into your house, with out having an extended quarantine interval. If a pet rabbit dies, have your veterinarian consider your pet’s physique for the reason for demise, and be sure to observe your vet’s recommendation for disinfection and ready intervals earlier than introducing new rabbits to your house. 

Thankfully, people aren’t affected by this virus; whereas there isn’t any threat to people who personal rabbits, each domesticated and wild rabbits are in danger. 

The underside line is: 

  1. In case your pet reveals any signal of sickness, go to a vet who sees rabbits usually. 
  2. Get your rabbits vaccinated, twice within the first yr after which yearly after that. 
  3. When introducing new rabbits, have a quarantine interval of 30 days, to be able to get new bunnies vaccinated and boostered earlier than introducing newcomers into your herd or colony. 

Rabbit house owners can discover numerous nice details about rabbit care at: www.rabbit.org 

Dr. Cynthia Maro is a veterinarian on the Ellwood Animal Hospital in Ellwood Metropolis and the Chippewa Animal Hospital in Chippewa Township. She writes a biweekly column on pet care and well being points. When you have a subject you’d wish to have addressed, electronic mail ellwoodvet@msn.com.

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