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Animal Disease Situation

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD)

Since 2015 a nationwide spread of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease in Germany, mainly caused by Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease virus 2 (RHDV-2), has been observed. Therefore, the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut conducts investigations for Caliciviruses (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV), RHDV-2, European brown hare syndrome virus (EBHSV)) to gather data required for virus characterization and for estimating the distribution of the virus.

The maps of diagnosed outbreak cases (at right column of this webpage) do not fully reflect the actual distribution, as they exclusively show cases diagnosed at the FLI. Some federal states or certain diagnostic agencies send in samples regularly; other regions are under-represented. As the disease is no longer reportable, there is no central register for RHDV cases any more.

The vaccines currently licensed in Germany provide efficient protection against RHDV, but not necessarily against RHDV-2. For maximum protection the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Vaccination in Veterinary Medicine (StIKo Vet) must be observed. These are available in the internet and in brief recommend a two-dose primary vaccination of rabbits as early as possible (according to the manufacturer’s instructions) with one of the two monovalent complete antigen vaccines Cunivak RHD or RIKA-VACC RHD at a three-week interval followed by regular booster vaccinations at six-week intervals.

In addition to vaccination, general infection protection measures to prevent an introduction of the virus are of utmost importance: hygiene, disinfection, change of clothing; if possible bought-in animals should be quarantined. In case of an RHDV outbreak cleaning, disinfection and safe disposal of potentially infectious material are essential to prevent a spread of the disease. It is of particular importance to choose an adequate disinfectant: special disinfectants which are effective against non-enveloped viruses must be used.