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Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (VHD) |
Important News Regarding Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (VHD)
6/12/05: Press release by Bureau of Animal Health, Indiana.
6/7/05: VHD confirmed in Evansville, Indiana. This is the fourth US outbreak. There is not much published info on this current outbreak. There is a new yahoo list, VHDInfo, that appears to have current information on the outbreak. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VHDInfo/ . We hope to have more info and links soon.
" On June 7, 2005, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) was confirmed at a private residence in Vanderburgh county, Indiana by the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL) on Plum Island, NY. Specimens from these rabbits were positive for RHD antigen on ELISA, electron microscopy, and PCR. A FAD investigation was initiated on June 3, 2005 on a premises that raises rabbits primarily for sale to reptile owners as a food source for snakes. The investigation revealed that many of the 200 rabbits on the premises suddenly died during the past 10 days. Less than a dozen rabbits had recently been purchased from Kentucky and introduced into the herd. An e pidemiologic investigation has begun in Kentucky. The remaining rabbits are quarantined and will be euthanized and disposed of in accordance to State regulations. Cleaning and disinfection of the area will follow. The Indiana epidemiological investigation is ongoing."
12/11/01 Update: VHD has again struck here in the USA. This is the third US Outbreak. This time it is not a rural location. An exotics animal facility in Flushings (Queens) NY that is open to the public is the site of the current outbreak.
8/17/01 Update: Second US Outbreak. On August 17, 2001, USDA's Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL) confirmed Viral hemorrhagic disease of rabbits (VHD) also known as rabbit calicivirus disease from a rabbitry in Utah county, Utah. A Mercer County, IL premises, which received 72 rabbits from the infected Utah premises was also involved. Preliminary test results are positive for the rabbits that were received from the infected Utah premises. Over 3,000 rabbits have been euthanized in conjunction with this current outbreak.
On April 10, 2000, the first confirmed cases of Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease in the United States were reported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Animal and Plant Health Inspections Service (APHIS). The affected rabbits lived on a farm in Crawford County, Iowa. Of the twenty-seven rabbits in the rabbitry, twenty-five died, with the remaining two being purchased and euthanized by the state. Up until this confirmed case, the US had been considered free of VHD.
What Is VHD?
Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (VHD) is a highly contagious disease caused by a calicivirus that affects only rabbits of the Oryctolagus cuniculus species. This includes wild and domesticated European rabbits, from which our own domesticated rabbits are descended. It has not been known to affect any North American native rabbits or hares, such as cottontails, snowshoe hares and jackrabbits. VHD is also known by several other acronyms: RHD (Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease), RCV (Rabbit Calicivirus), and RCD (Rabbit Calicivirus Disease). VHD was first seen in China in 1984, and has since spread to Mexico, Continental Europe, Israel, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Symptoms may include:
VHD, however, is often a very swift and sudden killer, giving little warning. Rabbits may die without showing any symptoms at all. Some bleeding from the nose, mouth and rectum is sometimes seen. Any sudden rabbit death is suspicious and should be reported to your veterinarian or the State Veterinarian as a possible case of VHD
How VHD is spread
As was mentioned, VHD is highly contagious. It can be spread by:
How to Protect Your Rabbits
What You Can Do
Educating yourself and others about VHD is one of the best ways to help protect your rabbits. Dont panic, but get involved on spreading the word to others in the rabbit community.Educating Yourself:
Take the time to read the information at the following recommended websites.
Informing veterinarians, shelters, pet stores that sell rabbits and fellow rabbit lovers about VHD is important to helping to protect all rabbits. Make copies of this article to show your local vets, etc., and refer them to above websites. The VHD in the US Coalition website has informational flyers that you can download and distribute as well. We need your help to spread the word!
Most Important: Protect all Rabbits from VHD
Unexplained and suspicious rabbit deaths, especially when they occur in clusters of several rabbits dying in a short period of time, should be reported to your local veterinarian. All veterinarians are being instructed to report any suspicious deaths to the State Veterinarian. This is very important to prevent the spread of this awful disease. If you suspect that you have a possible case of VHD, do not bury the body or take it out of the house, but call your vet to learn the proper handling procedures. To conceal an infected rabbit or knowledge of a VHD infection is to sentence may other rabbits to death as well.
What is the Government Doing?
Currently, the USDA and APHIS have no jurisdiction over rabbits. Individual State Veterinarians will be the ones to decide what protocol to follow in event of an outbreak; however, it is likely they will invite APHIS to participate with them to handle an outbreak. House Rabbit Society Chapter Managers and leaders of other house rabbit and rabbit rescue groups should also contact their State Veterinarians. The state authorities should know that there are concerned companion rabbit caregivers and rabbit rescues in your state whose interests must be included in policy making. We need to make sure our rabbit companions are not forgotten.
Remember, dont panic, but educate yourself and others. Together we can make a difference.
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