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Given the high interest in this subject, we have decided to provide some updated information on rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) and answers to the most common questions we received from our clients.
What is RHD?
Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) is a calicivirus of the genus Lagovirus that causes rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) in adult European rabbits.
Why there is so much interested about this disease nowadays?
In Summer 2010, a RHDV variant (called RHDV2) was detected in France following which it spread across mainland Europe and arrived also in Great Britain. Several cases of RHDV2 infections have been confirmed in the last year in Great Britain both in wild and domestic rabbits, and included rabbits that had been vaccinated with the current RHD vaccine.
Which clinical signs RHD may cause?
RHD causes high mortality, with individuals succumbing between 48-72h post-infection in peracute forms. The disease is characterised by acute necrotising hepatitis, but haemorrhage due to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) particularly in the lungs, heart, and kidneys may also occur. Acute infections are accompanied by anorexia, apathy and neurologic signs such as opisthotonos, excitement, paralysis and ataxia may also be observed. There are occasionally some respiratory signs and bloody nasal discharge. Subacute forms of the disease present similar, but milder clinical symptoms and most rabbits survive. The RHDV2 is less virulent than the original strain and has a lower and variable mortality rate.
Who can RHD be diagnosed?
The diagnosis of RHD is usually made at post mortem examination and acute hepatic necrosis is a common finding. BattLab offers a PCR test, followed by sequencing, can discriminate between classical (RHDV1) and type 2 genotypes. The sample of choice for the diagnostic PCR is liver, since it is the organ containing the higher vial titer. We recommend submission of fresh or frozen tissue collected at post mortem, since formalin fixed tissues are not suitable for this test. Alternatively, other organs (e.g. spleen, peripheral blood, urine) may also contain variable levels of virus which can be detected by PCR.
Internal updates
According to our internal data (Laboklin), 146 UK rabbits were tested in the period between January 2015 and February 2017. None of these were positive for RHDV1, whilst RHDV2 was identified in 24 animals (16.4%). Samples received varied and included fresh liver (from dead animals), spleen, peripheral blood and conjunctival swabs.
In addition to PCR for RHD, BattLab offers a wide variety of testing for rabbits and all small mammals, from haematology and biochemistry, to serology, endocrinology and various PCR testing. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need further information or if you want to receive copy of our catalogue.
Attached you can find just a few of the tests we offer for Cats, Dogs and Rabbits. For further information take a look at our website to see what we have to offer!
Our PCR profiles specifically designed for dogs
Our PCR profiles specifically designed for cats
Diagnostics for Rabbits
Diagnostics for Reptiles
Yours sincerely,
The BattLab team
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