Rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is a highly contagious and often lethal viral disease that affects wild and domestic rabbits. The RHD virus (RHDV) is a calicivirus of the genus Lagovirus that targets liver cells and causes acute hepatocellular necrosis. Death is rapid and due to acute liver failure or disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (Marcato et al. 1991Ueda et al. 1992). Attitudes to RHD vary across the world. Owners of commercial or pet rabbits wish to prevent infection and in parts of Europe, RHD in the wild rabbit population is a cause of concern because rabbits provide a valuable food source for wild animals and birds. They also provide sport for some humans. Conversely, in some countries notably Australia and New Zealand, RHD is spread deliberately as a means of biological control of the wild rabbit population.