Rabbit health

Diagnosis and treatment of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

August 21, 2019

Breeding rabbits is a pretty pleasant, amazing and profitable business. But even the most responsible and attentive rabbit breeder must be prepared for a situation in which you can quickly lose all this. Viral hemorrhagic disease of rabbits is able to instantly destroy all livestock on the farm. In this case, it remains only to admit that "the enemy (VGBK) is identified, but the battle is lost." How to recognize this insidious disease, and what measures must be taken to maximally protect your animals from the insidious virus?

Diagnosis and treatment of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

The origin and mechanism of infection of HBV

Rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease is a relatively young disease. Even before 1984, rabbits could be bred without worrying about serious preventive measures against diseases.

The hemorrhagic virus first appeared in China, from where it easily spread to European countries due to the absence of any quarantine measures that prevent the spread of this disease.

The insidiousness of HBVC consists in a record speed of its course and the absence of any clinical manifestations. Most often, an infected rabbit almost completely looks healthy until the last minutes of its life, and only in the last minutes can such signs as a sharp tipping of the head, screaming, convulsive agonizing movements occur, after which death occurs. Prior to this, the rabbit is sick for at least two days, during which the infection of neighboring healthy individuals occurs.

The ways of infection with HBV virus can be enumerated endlessly, and all because it retains its capacity at very low sub-zero temperatures and is resistant to all disinfectants.

In addition to direct contact of sick rabbits with healthy ones, hemorrhagic infection can spread in other ways, namely:

  • feed, water, manure and litter used by sick animals;
  • clothes, shoes, hands of any person in contact with animals at risk of HBV;
  • bites of mosquitoes and rodents;
  • contacts with poultry and other animals (pigs, cattle, goats, etc.) that are carriers of this disease, while remaining immune to it.
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The "hemorrhagic" virus, as it is called in common people, is quite resistant to the environment, therefore it is easily tolerated with air currents. Sources of its spread are also fluff, skins of dead or sick animals, where the virus can persist for several months. If quarantine and liquidation measures are not observed in cases of HBV in rabbits, the epidemic may continue throughout the year.

Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of HBVC

The disease in HBV rabbits can occur in the form of two forms of the course. super acute and acute. The rate of infection of healthy rabbits with the virus is so high that the chronic form does not occur here. In the first case, the rabbit breeder, not even suspecting the presence of the disease, discovers only the dead animals. In the case of an acute form, the following symptoms of HBV can be observed in rabbits: within 2–3 days after infection, a weak or no appetite is observed, a fever appears, and signs of irritation or depression are observed. Rabbits can make a squeak or moan, throw their heads back and make jerky movements with their limbs. The animals die in 1-2 days.

Diagnosis and treatment of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

For a complete diagnosis of HBV, it is necessary to perform an autopsy of the dead animal. At autopsy, one of the signs will be pulmonary edema, but the virus begins to develop in the animal’s liver. A light brown, enlarged loose liver will be the most striking indicator of the presence of a hemorrhagic infection in the animal. Other organs (heart, kidneys, spleen) will also have signs of inflammation and an unnatural color. In all other organs of the animal, inflammatory processes can be observed.

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An autopsy is necessary to exclude some diseases that are similar in clinical signs. One of these is rabbit hemorrhagic septicemia (pasteurellosis). This disease is very dangerous not only for rabbits, but also for other domestic animals. Rabbit pasteurellosis affects birds, pigs, cows, etc. Hemorrhagic septicemia, unlike the virus, is dangerous not only for animals, but also for humans. But with HBVC, the meat of a sick rabbit should not be eaten, and even apparently healthy individuals can be a serious threat to health.

HBVC treatment or vaccination?

After diagnosis of the rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus, quarantine measures must be taken at the farm.

It should be noted that no treatment for hemorrhagic infection makes sense and methods, because there are no medicines for this virus! It is necessary to eliminate all diseased individuals and dispose of. Disposal is carried out by cremation to prevent the spread of infection.

Healthy rabbits are vaccinated. The peculiarity of the hemorrhagic disease virus is that young individuals are less susceptible to infection up to 2 months, but this does not exclude their further illness. Therefore, vaccinations for preventive measures are given to rabbits at the age of 1.5 months. Subsequent vaccination occurs at the age of 3 months. The following vaccinations are carried out in accordance with the instructions for the drug, most often they are carried out every six months.

The most susceptible to the disease are pregnant and lactating rabbits. In the event of an epidemic, vaccination of such individuals is also possible, but this does not guarantee a positive result.

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Adult females are recommended to be vaccinated as a preventative measure before mating. In addition, the introduction of serum against HBV is possible, which does not destroy the virus, but helps to improve immunity. The weakest individuals die.

There is an opinion that domestic vaccines do not always work, and sometimes there are cases of the disease immediately after vaccination. But this can only mean that the rabbits were already infected before vaccination.

Preventive measures to prevent the spread of HCVF

If a hemorrhagic infection is detected, a number of quarantine actions are carried out by the veterinary services in the distribution zone of the GBC. The instructions for the prevention and elimination of viral hemorrhagic disease of rabbits are used, which involves:

In order to exclude repeated cases of infection with HBV, thorough treatment and disinfection of cells, equipment, clothing and premises is carried out at each rabbit compound. It should be remembered that the virus is resistant to chlorine, phenol and other disinfectants, but such treatment should still be carried out. You can “burn” cells and surfaces with a blowtorch or gas burner. It is necessary to destroy manure, litter and feed, which were in the yard with infected animals.

Theoretically, you can leave the surviving healthy rabbits after an outbreak of HBV. But it is worth remembering that infection of a virus of this type can occur at the gene level, and this can lead to a recurrence of HBV in the compound. Therefore, the only right decision of the rabbit breeder to eliminate the consequences of this epidemic will be the decision to slaughter the entire livestock.

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