Rudolph's Rabbit Ranch's Information on
Rabbit Hemmorhagic Disease
(also known as Viral Hemmorrhagic Disease (VHD), and Rabbit Calicivirus Disease (RCD), and Necrotic Hepatitis of Rabbits)

General Information on Rabbit Hemmorhagic Disease
(Provided by the Rabbit Industry Council)

This highly contagious viral disease can kill up to 100% of the domestic rabbits exposed; the incubation period is short, ranging from 24-72 hours from exposure to illness. Wild rabbits and hares are not susceptible, and this disease does not affect humans or other species.

Three forms of the disease exist once begun: Peracute, where one or more rabbits are found dead in their cages. Acute, where symptoms such as lethargy and fever may be seen, with death occurring within one to three days. The transient form of the disease is rare in adult rabbits, common in those under about 12 weeks of age. The transiently-affected animals will become ill, displaying mild forms of the symptoms, then recover. These animals will shed infective virus in urine and feces for at least four weeks and may act as passive carriers for longer as well.

Careful observation of your rabbits is essential; watch for sudden unexpected deaths, possibly with froth from the nose, either fluid or blood; watch for multiple deaths in a short period of time or that are not explicable by other means. No new animals should be allowed in without a quarantine of at least 7 days, preferably 30 days. It is highly recommended that all rabbit owners educate themselves about this disease before showing or exposing their rabbits to others, or purchasing any new animals. Pet owners should limit their rabbits' excursions.

If you suspect one or more deaths are due to RCD/VHD, please contact your state veterinarian as soon as possible by calling your state agricultural and livestock department, or call USDA Emergency Services at (301)734-8073, or email . Their staff will then help you evaluate the death(s), and if needed, will take samples for VHD/RCD diagnostic procedures.

Timely, accurate information is available: on the Internet from the Rabbit Industry Council by email to or by telephone at (530) 534-7390 8am-5pm Pacific time, 7 days a week. Message calls will be returned as soon as possible. Urgent inquiries about possible cases should be directed to your state veterinarian. (Info from 2009)

Other information on RHD can be found at the following web sites:
(Many older RHD/VHD information sites are gone.  Anyone knowing of any good sources of info for RHD/VHD, please e-mail me to submit it for inclusion.)

North American RHDV2 Facebook Group

Please Note: Rudolph's Rabbit Ranch is not responsible for the accuracy or content of materials on external web sites; these links are provided as a courtesy.

Page created by Mary-Frances Bartels
Comments, corrections, or suggestions may be directed to Mary-Frances Bartels.

Page last modified March 12, 2021.

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