Attention RHD virus: Deadly rabbit disease spreads more

Attention RHD virus: Deadly rabbit disease spreads more

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Dangerous viruses: increased rabbit deaths

The so-called Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) has been spreading in Germany for several years. The disease, which is also known as "China disease" or hemorrhagic disease in rabbits, is usually fatal to the animals. Vaccination against the disease is available.

Rabbit disease spreads

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) first appeared in European rabbits in China in 1984 and was therefore referred to as the so-called China disease. For some years now, the spread of the disease has also been observed in this country. The RHD virus has recently been found in several animals in southeast Bavaria.

New virus variant

A few weeks ago, four rabbits died in your enclosure in the Chieming district, according to a message from the Traunstein district office.

Experts from the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) discovered RHD viruses in the carcasses.

According to the agency, a new virus variant RHDV-2 has been identified in addition to the well-known classic RHD virus strains and the European brown hare syndrome virus (EBHSV) since 2010. This now occurs in large parts of Germany.

Disease only affects rabbits

The disease, which only affects rabbits, is transmitted primarily through direct contact of the animals and spreads very quickly in the rabbit population.

Contagion also takes place via indirect contact, such as people, collected feed or transport cages used by different holders. Transmission by insects such as mosquitoes, rabbit fleas or flies is also possible.

According to the information, the first signs of illness, such as fever, unwillingness to eat and apathetic behavior, appear just a few hours after an infection.

According to the LGL, the disease often leads to animal death without clear clinical symptoms.

The virus therefore mainly damages liver and vascular cells and causes extensive destruction of liver cells and clot formation with bleeding and clot formation in small vessels.

Vaccination provides only limited protection

"In 2016, 142 and thus significantly more rabbits were sent to the LGL for examination than in previous years," wrote the LGL in its annual report.

"The LGL diagnosed RHD in 54 of these animals," it continues.

Protection against all forms of RHD is only possible through vaccination. But: "The RHDV vaccines currently on the market offer only limited protection against RHDV-2", the LGL said in a message.

The experts refer to the information provided by the Friedrich Löffler Institute (FLI) and the recommendations of the Standing Vaccination Committee for Veterinary Medicine (StIKoVet). (ad)

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