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Interim results with regard to RHD (January 2018)

So far there have been 146 submissions to the 'Sudden or Unexpected Death' investigation. Although the investigation was set up to investigate any sudden or unexpected death, Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) has dominated the study in recent months. Of the 146 submissions, 82 rabbits showed histopathological changes consistent with RHD.  Typical changes included acute hepatocellular necrosis and glomerular thrombosis. PCR testing for RHDV2 has been carried out on 60 of the submissions so far with 50 positive results. Some of the rabbits that tested positive had apparently died from other causes. They are likely to be many more positive results as we have a further 24 samples from the 146 submissions waiting to be submitted to Filavie. 

Vaccination status

Of the sixty rabbits that tested positive for RHDV2 on PCR, 22 were vaccinated with Nobivac Myxo-RHD and 24 were unvaccinated. Only two rabbits were vaccinated against RHDV2. One of these had been vaccinated by the breeder and there was no vaccination certificate available. Another was vaccinated 10 days before death and there were no histopathological signs of RHD so this could have been a false positive result from the vaccine. The vaccination status was not available in the remaining cases.

Geographical distribution

The rabbits that died from RHD have come from all over England as well as some parts of Wales. 

Conclusion

It seems that we have an epidemic of RHD in the UK pet rabbit population at the moment. This is consistent with the responses to the survey of owners of rabbits that have died from RHD. Current results of that survey can be found here. It appears that RHDV2 has superseded other variants and Nobivac Myxo-RHD is not protective against this disease. Vaccination against RHDV2 is extremely important.