Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Confirmation of diagnosis

Post-mortem examination of rabbits that have died unexpectedly is essential. Finding blood in the abdomen arouses suspicion of RHD although there are other diagnoses. Although the gross lesions and histopathological findings of hepatocellular necrosis and changes in other organs are highly suggestive of RHD, further tests are required to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the variant.

PCR testing

PCR testing is no longer available at either VLA or Moredun for pet rabbits.  Instead, Laboklin, BattLab and PALS Veterinary Laboratory offer a PCR test, followed by sequencing, which can discriminate between classical (RHDV1) and type 2 genotypes.

The sample of choice for the diagnostic PCR is liver because it is the organ that will contain the highest vial titre. Variable levels of virus may be detected from other sites (e.g. spleen, peripheral blood, faeces, urine) but false negative results are more likely to occur.