Rabbit health

What are HBV symptoms and prevention of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

August 3, 2019

Domestic rabbits are susceptible to many infectious diseases. One sick individual can destroy the entire livestock. A dangerous and deadly disease is rabbit hemorrhagic disease (HBV). Infection is characterized by increased infectiousness, fulminant development and death. In order to protect pets, each rabbit carrier must know the symptoms and forms of the disease.

What are HBV symptoms and prevention of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

Ways of transmission of the disease

Viral hemorrhagic disease of rabbits (abbreviated HBV) has several names associated with post-mortem changes in organs and clinical manifestations:

  • necrotic hepatitis;
  • hemorrhagic fever;
  • hemorrhagic or distemper.

The causative agent of the disease is the RNA virus, which has an increased level of infectivity. The virus remains operational for more than 5 years, is resistant to high (up to 60 ℃) and low temperatures (below 50 ℃), ethers and chlorine. It should be noted that hemorrhage is found only in rabbits and does not pose a threat to other livestock and people. However, humans can be carriers, like birds, rodents, and blood-sucking insects. The virus spreads by airborne droplets and alimentary, infection occurs through the following items:

  • feed and drinking water;
  • land and manure;
  • litter;
  • fluff and skins of infected rabbits;
  • shoes, clothes and equipment.

Forms of the disease

Plague in rabbits can occur in two forms: acute and chronic. Each of them has individual symptoms, therefore, for each, different measures of exposure are used.


The acute course of hemorrhagic disease is manifested by primary symptoms. Most often occurs for the following reasons:

  • stress;
  • overpopulation in cells or aviaries;
  • close contact with sick animals.

The acute form of HBVC lasts 1–4 days, after which the animals die. According to observations of rabbit breeders, faced with hemorrhagic disease, rabbits were the first to die.


The chronic course of plague in rabbits is characteristic of individuals with strong immunity. The period lasts from 10 days to 2 weeks, after which death occurs. At this time, animals due to the fight against the virus look irritated and refuse to eat. After infection with this form of hemorrhagic disease, an epidemic begins, which leads to a massive mortality of the livestock.

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Symptoms of VGBK

Each form of hemorrhagic disease has a number of individual symptoms. Symptoms of acute plague in rabbits are as follows:

  • increase in body temperature up to 41 ℃;
  • weakness and lethargy of pets, rabbits hide in a quiet place;
  • nosebleeds and cramps;
  • loss of appetite, diarrhea;
  • tachycardia;
  • animals throw their heads back, make sounds similar to groans.

What are HBV symptoms and prevention of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

The chronic form is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Rabbits become aggressive and refuse to eat.
  • Animals develop conjunctivitis, rhinitis, and pneumonia.
  • Possible bleeding from the anus, damage to the intestines and stomach.

Often the chronic form is asymptomatic: the rabbit is calm, but suddenly falls to the ground dead. If the animal died for no apparent reason, the corpse should be taken to the laboratory for research.

Establishing diagnosis

Having noticed the first alarming symptoms in rabbits, each farmer should immediately go to the veterinarian. Otherwise, the infection will be transmitted to healthy individuals and will kill all rabbits.

Speaking about the virus of hemorrhagic disease, we should mention the individual characteristics of the disease. different times of death of animals. Mass death begins with the death of two or three rabbits, and the owners do not immediately realize the extent of what is happening.

An accurate diagnosis is made after autopsy. It is important to comply with certain requirements:

  • The body of the animal for research should weigh at least 3 kg. The carcass is placed in a disinfected container, which is placed in an ice container.
  • Sample materials should be taken from the animal’s liver. After opening the carcass, hemorrhages in the internal organs are observed.

Laboratory studies are necessary in order to exclude other viral diseases (pasteurellosis, staphylococcosis) and poisoning.

What are HBV symptoms and prevention of rabbit hemorrhagic disease

Hemorrhagic disease treatment

There is no cure for hemorrhage, so treatment of sick pets is not possible. The only thing that can protect rabbits from certain death is vaccination of animals. However, it should be noted that even after the introduction of the vaccine, there is a minimal risk of infection.

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Vaccination is carried out by three methods:

  • associated;
  • monograft;
  • vaccine against myxomatosis and HBV.

Experienced farmers recommend the latter method, because a comprehensive vaccination will protect rabbits from two dangerous ailments at once. Choosing a vaccine against myxomatosis and HBV, you should adhere to such recommendations:

  • The vaccine is first administered intramuscularly at 1.5 months of age, preferably in spring or summer.
  • Re-administration of the vaccine is carried out after three months. Subsequent vaccinations are performed every 6 months.
  • The injection is performed in the thigh area, having previously disinfected this part of the body with an alcohol solution. The optimal dosage of the drug is not more than 0.5 ml.

Preventative measures

With the manifestation of HBV in rabbits, the first thing a farmer should do is to prevent the virus from entering neighboring farms. To do this, the following rules:

  • Report the epidemic to the appropriate authorities.
  • It is forbidden to have infected rabbits with animals that live in other places. You can’t bring new pets to the farm.
  • Having found infected individuals, they are moved to another room. separately from apparently healthy rabbits. At the same time, the cage, equipment, clothing and objects in contact with the animals are disinfected. Separate care items are given to infected animals.
  • Healthy rabbits are vaccinated against hemorrhagic disease to reduce the risk of infection.
  • The bodies of dead animals and manure are burned to prevent the spread of the virus.

When the preventive rules are followed, mass mortality of rabbits can be prevented. When conducting protective measures, it is important to monitor the well-being of patients on a daily basis.

Recovery after illness

Having established the infection of several pets with the RNA virus, it is necessary to divide the animals into two groups in order to save part of the livestock. Rabbits suffering from hemorrhagic disease are sent for slaughter, the rest of the animals are vaccinated by administering a complex vaccine against myxomatosis and HBV. It should be noted that the slaughter is carried out in a bloodless manner, and carcasses are burned.

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Having finished with the distribution of animals and the elimination of infected rabbits, a thorough cleaning of the premises should be carried out, including the transport in which the pets moved and the care items. Manure and bedding are burned, workers’ clothes are treated with chemicals. New individuals are imported 2 weeks after the last manifestation of the disease.

Is it possible to eat meat

It has been established that the HBVC virus is safe for humans and other livestock, but novice farmers are thinking about whether it is possible to eat meat from rabbits who have had a hemorrhagic disease. Despite the safety of the virus, a person remains a possible carrier of the disease. WITHaccording to the requirements of the veterinary and sanitary examination of meat products and offal, such rabbit meat cannot be eaten. Despite the ban, some farmers are still of the opinion that the meat of rabbits surviving after hemorrhagic disease can be eaten after heat treatment (over 60 ℃), having previously cut and destroyed the head and legs of the animal by fire.

Hemorrhagic disease in rabbits is a dangerous ailment that causes huge losses to farmers. To avoid the penetration of the virus, vaccination should be carried out in time and the condition of the pets should be monitored. If the virus nevertheless crept up to the rabbits, there is no need to despair. the observance of preventive measures and the immediate vaccination of the remaining individuals can save the remains of the livestock.

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