Rabbit health

Symptoms and prevention of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

September 12, 2019

Many breeders know firsthand about such a dangerous ailment as viral hemorrhagic disease of rabbits (or HBV). This infection spreads from one individual to another with lightning speed and is accompanied by high mortality, sometimes affecting the entire population. Rabbit breeders consider VGBK a real disaster and are doing their best to prevent an epidemic in their economy. Is it possible to protect eared animals from this disease, and what if the infection is already detected? Let’s consider this question in more detail.

Symptoms and prevention of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

A bit of history

VGBK came to us from China. The first cases of mass epidemics in this country were recorded back in 1984. But since the disease was not studied at that time, infected meat was imported into most European countries, being transferred to local rabbit farms. People simply could not understand what was happening: apparently healthy animals suddenly died out over the course of the day. Later it turned out that the development of fever took place in a latent form, and after 2-3 days the disease could not be stopped. Only in Italy at that time revealed about 600 foci of infection.

2 years after the detection of HBVC in China, reports of infected animals came from the Far East. Gradually, outbreaks of epidemics began to flare up in other regions of the USSR, and by 1987 were already observed in 31 regions. Effective transmission of the virus has contributed to the rapid spread of rabbit hemorrhagic disease.

The popular name for this infection is hemorrhagic. From some breeders (among them there are also experienced ones) one can sometimes hear the term “plague”. But to say that is fundamentally wrong. Plague in rabbits has never been reported, and in general it is a completely different disease.

Transmission ways

Initially, HBVC infects one or more individuals, but in the presence of favorable conditions for distribution, the entire population may be affected. The virus is very stable and on wooden structures of the cell is able to maintain activity for 2 months. Ways of transmission of infection are diverse, in addition, the risk of getting sick increases significantly if the requirements for keeping rabbits are not met:

  • the airborne method of spreading the pathogen is the most common, and infection can occur even in the absence of direct contact with the infected individual;
  • from sick or previously sick animals (the latter remain carriers of the virus for a long time);
  • activation of the organism of the animal and virulence-retaining microorganisms while weakening the immune system;
  • infection through feed or water;
  • transmission of the virus to the pet from the breeder (the infection can be brought on clothes, shoes, tools).
Read more:  The rabbit has a wet face

Symptoms and prevention of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

The causative agent of rabbit hemorrhagic disease is a virus whose genetic material is contained in the RNA chain. It has high virulence and, when frozen, is able to maintain it for 5 years, is not destroyed by ether or chloroform. It affects animals over 3 months old regardless of their gender, young animals are more stable. Seasonal outbreaks are not observed, the infection spreads at the same rate at any time of the year. For other animals and humans, the virus is not dangerous.


During the incubation period, which lasts 2 to 3 days, the hemorrhagic does not manifest itself in any way. Rabbits eat normally and are active, only some have sluggish behavior. Then the animals suddenly stop eating, get into a corner and just expect death. In the last hours, nosebleeds can begin in animals.

Since the symptoms are invisible in the initial stages of the disease, breeders discover the infection too late. If a pet has a lot of litter and sits in a corner, you should measure its temperature. In a healthy animal, it is 38.3 °. 39.4 °, in a patient 1.5 days before death. 40.5 °. Also, in parallel with HBV, myxomatosis is often found in rabbits.

The virus, entering the animal’s body, accumulates in the liver, and then spreads to other organs and causes internal bleeding. Therefore, a fever so quickly leads to death. Lastly, the animal develops pulmonary edema, and it suffocates.


Effective treatment for HBV does not exist today. But if the rabbit shows signs of infection, the entire population is given one injection of a specific serum against hemorrhagic disease in a volume of 0.5 ml. After 2 hours, it will begin to act and is likely to protect animals from infection.

Read more:  What to do if the rabbit has hind or front legs

Symptoms and prevention of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

In any case, it is recommended to call the veterinary service, whose representatives will examine the pets and, if necessary, impose quarantine. If serum is not available, you need to kill sick animals in a bloodless way and burn carcasses. Then it is necessary to disinfect the premises and equipment with a solution of formaldehyde. 2% or bleach. 10%.

Some breeders do not destroy carcasses, but eat them or give them to pets. Theoretically, the meat of a rabbit infected with HBV is not dangerous, since this disease does not apply to humans. But such a small animal may be ill with something else due to a weakened immunity, in addition, during the preparation process, you risk spurring the spread of the infection.


A vaccinated rabbit is 96% likely to resist the virus. But even in case of infection, there is a chance that his body will overcome the disease. The vaccination rules are as follows:

  • the first vaccination with eared animals is done at the age of 1.5 months, immunity is developed after 3 days and lasts for a year;
  • if an outbreak has begun in the rabbit farm, the vaccine is given only to healthy animals in separate sheds;
  • before injection, the mid-thigh area of ​​the pet is treated with a 70% alcohol solution, then one injection is made in a volume of 0.5 ml;
  • a separate needle is taken for each vaccination;
  • when using a monovalent vaccine, prevention of HBV is carried out 10 to 14 days after injection from myxomatosis;
  • if complications are observed in rabbits after an injection, the drug must be changed;
  • revaccination is done after 9 months.
Read more:  Rabbit diseases

Symptoms and prevention of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

Epidemic prevention

If the breeder has discovered the disease, he must prevent its spread, otherwise the outbreak of the HBV epidemic threatens to spread to neighboring rabbit farms. In this case it is forbidden:

  • sell meat and skins;
  • take rabbits out of the farm;
  • move animals from one rabbitry to another;
  • administer vaccines for any disease other than HBVC;
  • take out inventory and feed;
  • cultivate fields with manure stored on this farm and not specially treated.

The breeder needs to follow these rules:

  • change clothes and shoes after visiting sick animals;
  • when washing hands, use disinfectants;
  • burn the carcasses of dead animals;
  • do not quarantine if less than 14 days have passed since the last death;
  • after the epidemic, the vaccine is administered to surviving pets every 2 to 3 months throughout the year;
  • when buying animals, they are quarantined, vaccinated, and only after 3 days, rabbits can be moved to the rest;
  • in case of reinfection, it is imperative to notify the veterinary service.

Symptoms and prevention of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

Rabbit breeding will be profitable only if all the requirements for keeping and caring for animals are met. After all, pet health is the most important component of this business. Viral hemorrhagic disease of rabbits is more often observed in those farms where they do not conduct timely vaccinations and do not adhere to sanitary standards.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This