Deadly Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) Virus threatens to wipe out entire population of Rabbits in Nigeria
What is this Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease ?
RHD (Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease) is a virus that targets rabbits, by attacking their internal organs (such as the liver, kidney) causing internal bleeding and other severe damages which results in sudden death to the rabbits.
Sadly, RHD is very fatal in most cases wiping out rabbits in farms infected.
There are two types of RHD virus, RHD1 & 2.
- RHD 1 causes very sudden illness and is nearly always fatal within two days of catching it.
- RHD 2 often develops a bit more slowly and is often fatal within 1-2 weeks. Rabbits with RHD 2 are much more likely to spread the disease because they live for longer with symptoms.
Cases Of R. H. D In Nigeria
Several cases of the RHD Virus has been reported by many farmers in Nigeria, resulting in very severe fatal damages, leading to loss of life of all rabbits in such farms.
We recorded cases in Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Kwara, Ogun, among others. Cases with reports gotten were very severe, leading to the entire Rabbit stocks in such farms wiped out completely with no survival of any .
How RHD Virus Spreads
The RHDV virus is very resistant to extreme temperatures. It can be spread through direct contact or exposure to an infected rabbit’s excretions or blood.
The virus can also survive and spread from carcasses, food, water, and any contaminated materials.
People can spread the virus indirectly by carrying it on their clothing and shoes.
How To Protect Your Rabbits
A vaccine for RHD Virus is not currently available. Instead, it is up to you as the owner to protect your rabbits by practicing good Biosecurity.
Biosecurity means taking simple steps every day to keep germs away from your animals.
These actions will significantly reduce the chance of RHD or other contagious diseases affecting your rabbits.
Follow these recommended biosecurity practices:
Do not allow pet or wild rabbits to have contact with your rabbits or gain entry to the facility or home.
Do not allow visitors in rabbitries or let them handle pet rabbits without protective clothing (including coveralls, shoe covers, hair covering, and gloves).
Always wash hands with warm soapy water before entering your rabbit area, after removing protective clothing and before leaving the rabbit area
Do not introduce new rabbits from unknown or untrusted sources. Do not add rabbits to your rabbitry from animal shelters or other types of rescue operations.
If you bring outside rabbits into your facility or home, keep them separated from your existing rabbits for at least 30 days. Use separate equipment or newly acquired or sick rabbits to avoid spreading disease.
Sanitize all equipment and cages moved on or off premises before they are returned to the rabbitry. We recommend disinfecting with 10% bleach or 10% sodium hydroxide mixed with water.
Establish a working relationship with a veterinarian to review biosecurity practices for identification and closure of possible gaps.If you are a breeder or grower who purchases live rabbits, even if you have existing biosecurity measures in place, you should review your practices and take steps to address potential gaps.