What is Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV)?
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is a highly contagious and potentially deadly viral infection affecting rabbits and hares.
RHDV1 was first identified in the 1980’s in China and is now endemic in many countries among wild rabbits and hares.
The new strain of concern, RHDV2, was first identified in 2010 in France. This new strain differs from the original strain in that it is deadlier than RHDV1 and it affects both wild and domestic rabbits.
In 2018, RHDV2 was first confirmed in North America in British Columbia. As of June 13, 2022, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reported to us that there were four confirmed cases of RHDV2 in Lambton County near Sarnia, Ontario.
For more detailed information about RHDV2, please read the article titled Rabbit Hemorraghic Disease Virus (RHDV) in the Illustrated Articles section on our website. Further details are also available through the following web sites:
How Our Clinic Is Responding
We are monitoring the situation, which includes communication with the CFIA. There are currently no government-approved RHDV2 vaccines available to us in Canada, but the status of vaccine availability is expected to evolve.
How to Keep Your Rabbit Safe
RHDV2 is highly contagious and can be spread among rabbits through direct contact with bodily fluids and droppings. It can also spread by fomite transmission, meaning it can live on objects and infect rabbits who have contact with affected surfaces such as cages, bedding, food and people’s clothing. It is also known to travel on the tires of vehicles that have driven through areas with infected rabbits.
Implementing proper biosecurity measures can help protect your rabbit. These include:
  • Keep your rabbits indoors and ensure they can’t come into contact with wild rabbits or their droppings
  • Limit contact between indoor pet rabbits from different households
  • Limit contact between your rabbits and people who are in contact with other rabbits
  • Prevent your rabbits from having contact with shoes and clothing worn outside and keep this clothing separate from those worn indoors.
  • Ensure your rabbit is protected from ticks and fleas with preventative medication.
Can RHDV infect humans and other animals?
No. RHDV1 and RHDV2 only affects rabbits and hares.