Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHDV2)

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease is a fatal disease in rabbits that can be caused by several virus strains. Animal health officials detected one of these strains, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 2 or RHDV2, in North America in the past few years. RHDV2 does not impact human health.

RHDV2 is highly contagious, and unlike other rabbit hemorrhagic disease viruses, it affects both domestic and wild rabbits. Many times, the only signs of the disease are sudden death and blood- stained noses caused by internal bleeding. Infected rabbits may also develop a fever, be hesitant to eat, or show respiratory or nervous signs.

The disease is very resistant to extreme temperatures. It can be spread through direct contact of 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.

To help protect your rabbits from Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease, we recommend practicing good biosecurity procedures, such as:

  • Do not allow any unknown rabbits (pet, feral, or wild) to have contact with your rabbits or enter your home.
  • Do not allow visitors to handle pet rabbits without washing their hands first with warm, soapy water.
  • Always wash your hands with warm soapy water before and after handling your rabbit.
  • Do not introduce new rabbits from unknown or untrusted sources. If you are going to be bringing outside rabbits into your home, keep them separated from your existing rabbits for 2 weeks. Use separate equipment for newly acquired rabbits.
  • Sanitize all equipment and cages with a 10% bleach solution.
  • Do not touch any dead wild rabbits you come across. If you find multiple dead rabbits in an area, contact local wildlife officials to report your finding.
  • Never release a domestic rabbit into the wild.
  • If your rabbit appears ill or dies suddenly, contact your veterinarian.
  • Maintain a relationship with a local veterinarian who is educated in the care and medical needs of rabbits.

Animal Medical Center of the Village can administer a vaccine that has been imported from the EU for the prevention of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 1 and 2 (RHDV1 and RHDV2).

Please see the following section for more information about the vaccine for this deadly disease.

Waiver for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) Vaccination

I have elected to have my rabbit vaccinated with Filavac vaccine, as an attempt to protect against Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 1 and 2 (RHDV1 and RHDV2)

I understand the following:

  1. This vaccine is not licensed in the US and is being used under a special research and evaluation import permit from the USDA (US Department of Agriculture)
  2. This vaccine does not guarantee full protection against the disease, rabbit hemorrhagic disease.
  3. For best efficacy, it is recommended that rabbits over 10 weeks of age receive the vaccine and then are given a booster vaccine every year. **Please note that booster vaccines will only be available if additional vaccine importation is permitted by the state veterinarian's office and USDA.**
  4. The vaccine will take a minimum of 7 days to provide protection.
  5. Although rare, side effects have been documented in rabbits given the vaccine, including but not limited to: lethargy, fever, digestive upset, nodule or swelling at the vaccination site, anaphylactic reaction, and death. If my rabbit develops any side effects from the Filavac vaccine or the vaccination procedure, I do not hold Animal Medical Center of the Village or the veterinarians responsible, and as the owner of this rabbit, I will assume full responsibility for any treatment costs associated with said side effects.
  6. I acknowledge that there may be other, unknown risks and that the long-term effects and risks of this vaccine are unknown at this time.
  7. The effects of this vaccine on fertility have not been determined and the risk of abortion in pregnant does is undetermined at this time.
  8. There is currently no medical data on the interaction of this vaccine with other medical products.
  9. Because rabbits are considered by some for meat production, USDA requires we notify you of a 21-day withdrawal period for meat consumption, to avoid potential risks to US food supplies.
  10. We ask that you stay (on the premises) for 15 minutes after vaccination in case there is an adverse reaction.