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Origin of RHDV outbreaks in domestic rabbits

These are the results of an online survey that was set up in February 2017. The idea is to try to discover more about the current outbreak of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) that is killing rabbits in the UK and abroad. More information about RHD can be found here It is hard to know how the disease is spread so the survey was set up to compile information from owners who have lost rabbits to RHD.  So far we have had 88 responses and would like more.  A link to the survey can be found here. Comments on the latest survey results can be found here.

SURVEY RESULTS up to January 29th  2018 

 88 responses:  82 from UK, 1 from Malta, 2 from Germany, 1 from The Netherlands, I from Sweden

 The type of rabbits that died is summarised below:

Chart_Q7_180129.png

 The housing of the rabbits is summarised below:

Chart_Q8_180129.png

The diet of the rabbits in the outbreaks is summarised below:

NUMBER of LOSSES ATTRIBUTED TO RHD

One respondent did not lose any rabbits to RHD

One response didn’t make sense (lost more rabbits than they had)

3 rabbits kept on their own died

10 owners with two rabbits only lost one of them

24 owners with two rabbits lost both of them

1 owners with 3 rabbits only lost one of them

4 owners with 3 rabbits lost two of them

3 owners with 3 rabbits lost all of them

2 owners with 4 rabbits lost one of them

3 owners with 4 rabbits lost 2 or 3 of them

2 owners with 4 rabbits lost all of them

4 owners with 5-10 rabbits only lost one of them

1 owner with 5-10 rabbits lost half of them

6 owners with 5-10 rabbits lost less than half of them

3 owners with 5-10 rabbits lost more than half of them

1 owners with 5-10 rabbits lost all of them

No owner with more than 10 rabbits lost all of them

5 owners with 11-20 rabbits only lost one of them

4 owners with 11-20 rabbits lost less than half of them

2 owners with 11-20 rabbits lost more than half of them

4 owners with 21-50 rabbits lost less than a quarter of them

2 owners with 21-50 rabbits lost less than half of them

2 owners with 21-50 rabbits lost more than half of them. The highest mortality rate was 84%.

A rescue centre with 86 rabbits only lost one

A breeding establishment with 200 does lost 140adults and 1300 offspring

DIAGNOSIS

 87/88 outbreaks were suspected to be RHD from clinical signs or post-mortem examination

40/88 outbreaks were confirmed as RHD by PCR or histology

CONFIRMATION of RHD

40 cases were confirmed as RHD

       3 by histopathology

       37 by PCR

STRAIN OF RHD IN CASES CONFIRMED BY PCR

RHD

1

RHDV2

36

 VACCINATION STATUS OF 87 CONFIRMED AND UNCONFIRMED CASES 

VACCINATION STATUS OF 40 CASES CONFIRMED BY PCR OR HISTOPATHOLOGY 

Unknown

3

Unvaccinated

3

Nobivac Myxo-RHD only

                                       15 Within last year

                                       3  Over a year ago

18

Nobivac Myxo-RHD and RHDV2

                                         1 with Filovac within previous 2 weeks

                                         4 with Filovac within last 6 months

                                         1 with Filovac over a year ago

6

Against RHD and RHDV2

                                       1 with Filovac within previous 2 weeks

                                         2 with Filovac within last 6 months

3

Vaccinated against RHD1 (Castorex or Cunivac)

2

Against RHD and RHDV2

                                        1 with Filovac within previous 2 weeks

                                         2 with Filovac within last 6 months

 

3

 

DIET IN 40 OUTBREAKS CONFIRMED AS RHD OR RHDV2 

 

38/40 outbreaks occurred in rabbits that were fed on a commercial food (pellets, nuggets or muesli mix). There was a wide variation in brands of food with no pattern emerging.

37/40 outbreaks occurred in rabbit fed on hay from a variety of sources

3/40 outbreaks occurred in a groups of rabbits fed on pellets or nuggets and no hay

34/40 outbreaks occurred in rabbits fed on vegetables/herbs from a variety of supermarkets.  No pattern is emerging

31/40 outbreaks occurred in rabbits fed on grass and wild plants

CONTACT WITH WILD PLANTS IN 40 OUTBREAKS CONFIRMED AS RHD OR RHDV2 

21/40 outbreaks occurred in rabbits that grazed in the garden

8/40 outbreaks occurred in rabbits that were fed on forage collected locally

1/40 respondents did not specify where the grass came from

8 outbreaks occurred in rabbits that were not fed on grass or wild plants

CONTACT OF 87 CONFIRMED AND UNCONFIRMED CASES WITH WILD RABBITS

CONTACT OF 40 CONFIRMED CASES WITH WILD RABBITS

16 cases had no wild rabbits close to where they lived

cases had wild rabbits over half a mile away

8 cases had wild rabbits within half a mile

cases had rabbit in next field

2 cases had wild rabbits in the garden

1 didn’t answer

CONTACT WITH OTHER RABBITS IN 87 CONFIRMED AND UNCONFIRMED CASES

CONTACT OF OWNERS WITH OTHER RABBITS IN 87 CONFIRMED AND UNCONFIRMED CASES 

In the ‘other ‘category, there were two respondents that worked in or owned a rescue centre, someone that ran a pet hotel, a vet and a breeder. Three respondents walked in places where there were wild rabbits The rest had had little or no contact with other people’s rabbits.

CONTACT OF 40 CONFIRMED CASES WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S RABBITS

14/40 outbreaks occurred in rabbits (or their companions) that had been to the vets in the month before death. 4 owners worked at a vets

1/40 outbreak occurred in a rabbit belonging to a petsitter that visited other people's houses

1/40 outbreak occurred in a rabbit that belonged to someone who worked in a pet shop

9/40 outbreaks occurred in rabbits that had contact with rescue centres. Either directly or because owners fostered rabbits or worked in rescue.

1/40 outbreak occurred in a rabbit whose companion had been to a boarding establishment

14/40 outbreaks occurred in rabbits that had no contact at all with other people's rabbits but 6 of these owners would go walking where there were wild rabbits. One of these outbreaks occurred in rabbits that lived next to a premises that had RHD.

OWNERS IDEAS OF HOW THEIR RABBIT(S) MAY HAVE CAUGHT RHD IN BOTH CONFIRMED AND UNCONFIRMED CASES

41 owners had no idea where it could have come from

5 thought it had come from local wild rabbits

3 thought infection could have come from rescue centre

4 thought infection came from vets ( 2 worked at a vets)

7 suggested birds, crows and other wildlife in garden

3 owner thought they must have brought infection in on their shoes from places they went walking or where their horses were kept

2 thought infection came from boarding (one owner of a boarder and one owner of boarding establishment)

2 thought it was from wild rabbit that the cat caught

2 suggested hay

1 thought infection was introduced with a new rabbit

1 blamed urban foxes

1 thought it was from frozen rabbit meat that was used to feed cats

1 thought it might have come from farm that her husband and dog worked  and go hunting on

1 blamed sandals she had worn on holiday where there were wild rabbits

1 thought infection must have spread from neighbouring premises

1 suggested rats

1 suggested insects

11 didn’t answer