Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (or RHD) is a deadly disease that affects rabbits, specifically the European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). The main virus is accepted as being part of the Calici virus family, though some studies have indicated that the Parvo virus is involved.

The means of transmission are oral, respiratory and through abrasions on the skin. The symptoms, mortality rate and pathology of the disease differ in various outbreaks. Symptoms range from lethargy, loss of appetite, congestion, high temperature, blue colour of the lips and mucous membranes, spasms, bleeding from nose and/or mouth, and (most shockingly) sudden death. The most common cause of death due to the disease is massive internal haemorrhaging of one or more organs. All incidents seem to include lesions on the liver, which leads some to believe that there may be certain symptoms or earlier warning signs being missed in diagnosis, and may help in earlier treatment and possible recovery.

The virus is virtually impossible to eliminate in Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe, because of the wild rabbit populations in those regions. The Australian government plans deliberate releases of the virus to curb the wild rabbit population, which would be nothing short of disastrous. In fact, if this "controlled exposure" were to spread outside of the Australian continent, all efforts to date to stamp out the disease would be ruined.

Recent studies show that RHD could possibly pose a health threat to humans. People who have been exposed to the disease report having above normal instances of illness ranging from headaches to flu symptoms and other minor illnesses.

Sources and other places for information:

  • http://www.kindplanet.org/vhd/vhd.html
  • http://www.rabbit.org/

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.