NSPCA warns of outbreak of rabbit haemorrhagic disease in SA
Rabbit haemorrhagic disease is highly contagious and fatal, affecting rabbits and hares.
The National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) has warned of an outbreak of rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD).
RHD was first detected in the Northern Cape in November 2022. It is a highly infectious viral disease that affects rabbits.
Crowdfunding for vaccinations
“The NSPCA has from the onset of the outbreak called upon the rabbit industry and those keeping rabbits for financial gain to take responsibility during this outbreak,” said Jacques Peacock, spokesperson for the NSCPA.
He added, due to lack funding, it was now the responsibility of those who bred or farmed rabbits to raise funds to fight the outbreak.
“Breeders have now resorted to crowdfunding to vaccinate their rabbits, or worse, to buy feed,” said Peacock.
“RHD is highly contagious and fatal, affecting rabbits and hares. Unfortunately, infected animals may not display visible signs until it’s too late,” he said.
These are the symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
- Reduced movement
- Breathing difficulties
- Nasal discharge
- Convulsions or paralysis before death
- Red or purple gums
The virus spreads through direct contact with other animals, or through blood, nasal, and oral secretions of infected rabbits. It can also survive on surfaces such as clothes, shoes, blankets, and feed, posing a significant risk of transmission. Biting insects may also be carriers.
Steps to take
- If you suspect infection, contact your local veterinarian immediately and report any suspected cases to state veterinary authorities.
- Practise stringent biosecurity to prevent transmission in rabbit husbandry.
“We call upon the rabbit industry and those keeping rabbits for financial gain to take responsibility during this outbreak. SPCAs across the country are informed of this concerning disease and will be attending to pro-active and reactive concerns,” said the NSPCA.