VHD (viral haemorrhagic disease)

Feline leukaemia

VHD (viral haemorrhagic disease) is a highly contagious and acute fatal disease of rabbits. The virus is spread by direct and indirect transmission. The virus is very stable in the environment. The incubation period is 1 to 3 days and death usually occurs 12 to 36 hours after the onset of fever.

The virus is very stable in the environment. It survives at least 225 days at 4°C, and 105 days at room temperature. It is also stable during freeze-thaw cycles. The major means of transmission is via insects and birds which are a significant source of infection.

The incubation period is short and death occurs 12 to 36 hours afterwards. There are many clinical signs such as high temperature, anorexia, lethargy and dullness, convulsions, incoordination, paralysis, groaning, breathing problems and bloodstained discharge from the nose. Numerous signs can be present together. The acute form of the disease usually presents with sudden death. In more unusual cases (about 5-10%), a chronic condition can occur with severe jaundice and weight loss. These rabbits usually die 1 to 2 weeks later.

Vaccination is the only effective method of control.

Symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • High Fever
  • Spasms
  • Sudden death