Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (VHD) & Myxomatosis Alert!

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: There is NO occurrences of the above mentioned @ Tru-Luv Rabbitry. I do not want this taken as an opportunity for nasty people to spread wild allegations and rumors so for the record I am just RELAYING information picked up through comments on my blog for the good of all RABBIT OWNERS in MALAYSIA in the good spirit of SHARING!

VHD and Myxomatosis is 2 very deadly viruses that affect rabbits. For more information please go to http://www.rabbit.org/care/vhd.html.

So far, there isn’t any news about an outbreak in Malaysia but I received a comment yesterday by one Ms. Jean (https://truluvrabbitry.com/2009/09/04/malaysian-rabbit-owners-club/#comment-2997) stating that her rabbits are dying one after another without any symptoms.

I am not too sure if the Veterinary Services Department would have any information regarding any outbreaks and if they have the vaccines for it. Sometimes I do understand that rabbits isn’t a top priority for most so it would be difficult to contain if an outbreak occurs. We as pet owners must be self sufficient and share the information to protect our loved ones.

Here are some preventive measures recommended by rabbit.org (taken from http://www.rabbit.org/care/vhd.html):
How to Protect Your Rabbits

  • House your rabbits indoors. We strongly suggest that they be kept indoors, or in enclosed environments. Rabbits who live or exercise outdoors are more at risk for contracting this disease.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling your rabbits, particularly when you come home from places where other rabbits may have been, or where people who have been in contact with rabbits may have been. This would include places such as feed stores, pet stores, fair grounds, humane societies, etc.
  • Change your clothes and wash your hands after handling or coming in contact with rabbits. Wash these clothes twice in hot water before you wear them around your rabbit.
  • If you volunteer at a shelter, then have some special clothes and shoes that you wear only at the shelter. You may want to wear plastic bags over your shoes, secured with a rubber band. When you leave the shelter, remove the bags and dispose of them before you get into your car, making sure not to touch the outside of the bag. Follow clothes laundering instructions above, and shoe disinfecting instructions below. This protects the shelter rabbits as well as your own. The same considerations apply to anyone who sees rabbits at work and also has rabbits at home.
  • Adopt a “no shoes in the house” policy, or keep your bunnies from running in high traffic areas of your home. To disinfect shoes that may have been contaminated, you need to place the shoes in a foot bath that contains one of the following: 10% bleach solution, 2% 1-Stroke Disinfectant, Parvosol, or parvoviricide disinfectant. You may wish to speak with your veterinarian about how to obtain these. The shoes must be in contact with the disinfectant for at least ten minutes. The foot bath is recommended as it is important that during the ten minute disinfection time that the disinfectant remains wet. Merely spraying shoes with disinfectant and leaving them to dry is not effective.
  • Know your sources of hay and feed and if they are near areas of any outbreaks.
  • Minimize insects in your home by installing window and door screens. Eliminate mosquitoes and flies from your home.
  • Quarantine any new rabbit for 5 days. Always handle quarantined rabbits last, and keep all supplies for them separate from your other rabbit’s supplies.
  • To disinfect objects, use one of the disinfectants above, remembering that it must stay in contact with the item and remain wet for at least ten minutes.

UPDATES!

* if you are experiencing sudden death in your rabbits, please contact your State Veterinary Department, for SELANGOR, the contact number is +603-55103900 to inquire if there is an outbreak and get more information from them

I got this reply to the comment made by Ms. Jean from the Director of Rabbit Industry Council. Thank you very much Ms. Pamela Alley:

Hi, Jean–as Director of the Rabbit Industry Council, I’m very interested in hearing more about what you are seeing. What symptoms, how much time between deaths? What are you feeding/watering with? What breeds and what ages are affected?

RVHD is an OIE-reportable disease, so the Veterinary Services should be reacting with a bit more enthusiasm–contact your area’s government veterinary chief and if necessary, their superior in the agriculture and veterinary services.

Don’t let them pass rabbits off as unimportant! This disease (Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease) is very very nasty and can easily wipe out a majority of rabbits in the area.

The first step is to get a necropsy done by a veterinary service that knows what they are looking for; it is possible that members of the World Rabbit Science Association in your area may be able to help you with that. (Google the WRSA and ask the current president or secretary to help you find contacts near you.)

Some ‘trademarks’ of RVHD:
Deaths occur in animals over 8 weeks of age;
animals that are young may be ill but recover to become carriers for at least 1 month post-infection.
Death is sudden and may be accompanied by a scream and/or bloody discharge from the nose, mouth, eyes, or rear.
Losses are numerous and unaffected by ‘regular’ treatments such as antibiotics.
Necropsy findings include hemorrhagic lungs and liver with a reticulated pattern of hemorrhagic damage.

PLEASE DO NOT VISIT ANY OTHER RABBITRIES until you find out for sure what’s going on, and bleach your tires and shoes before and after going to the feedstore or other areas where others might pick up the virus (if that’s what it is). It is very very tenacious and tough!

Go to http://www.showbunny.com/RVHD/index.html for the full outline of the outbreaks in the early 2000’s in the US; the data there is likely to be quite helpful.

Good luck and please keep me posted!

Pamela Alley, RVT
Director, Rabbit Industry Council
Oroville, CA USA
RIC@cncnet.com

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3 Comments

Filed under Community Service, General Care

3 responses to “Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (VHD) & Myxomatosis Alert!

  1. holly

    Hi i had the same experience here in penang,malaysia. One of my rabbit (angora mix, female) died suddenly within 3 hours this morning. There were no symptoms. 3 hours before death , rabbit was normal and still feeding and running around happily. 2 other rabbits (angora mix, females) are still alive. everything seems normal..

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