Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) is a very serious infectious disease that can affect rabbits. Unfortunately, there is no cure once a rabbit is infected.

Who is at risk?

All rabbits are at risk of VHD.

How is it spread?

VHD is spread by direct contact between rabbits (both wild and domesticated) and also via indirect contact. Possible sources of indirect contact are people, clothing, contaminated hutches and bedding, as well as insect vectors such as fleas.

Cause of VHD

VHD is caused by a calicivirus and has an incubation period of just one to three days. The virus itself is very stable in the environment and can survive for up to 105 days.

Signs and symptom

Signs include depression, collapse, difficulty in breathing, convulsions, high body temperature, lethargy and bleeding from the nose. Death usually occurs within 12-36 hours after the onset of fever and the mortality rate can be as high as 90-100%.

Prevention and control

VHD vaccination can be given from eight weeks onwards, but is usually given at 10-12 weeks. Boosters are given annually for VHD.