Lethal virus outbreak targets rabbits

The virus causes bleeding organs including the liver, kidneys and spleen and death is quick and usually without warning.

Bunny owners are warned about the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) which is a lethal virus that affects both domestic and indigenous species of rabbits and hares.

The non-profit organisation, 3 R’s Rescue from Hibberdene is concerned about the virus, which is highly contagious and is currently affecting areas around South Africa – and it’s spreading.


It is caused by the calicivirus, resulting in a high number of deaths. It kills quickly, giving little warning.

RHDV was first detected in the Northern Cape in November 2022, and unfortunately, infected animals may not display visible signs until it is too late.

The deaths are caused by bleeding in the organs, including the liver, kidneys, and spleen.

According to the National Council of SPCAs, common clinical signs include fever, lack of appetite, reduced movement, breathing difficulties, nasal discharge, convulsions or paralysis before death, and red or purple gums.

To those who own pet rabbits and want to know more, are advised to visit your local SPCA or animal welfare organisation to answer any questions or provide assistance, where necessary.

A safe and effective RHDV2 vaccine is available.


Read original story on www.citizen.co.za

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