Viral Hemorrhagic Disease

VHD, also called RHD (Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease), was first reported in China and has since spread around the world.

It is a devastating disease that targets the European Rabbit species and its descendants (our domesticated house rabbit). Thankfully, VHD cannot be transmitted to the wild cottontails in North America, which may help limit the spread of this disease in North America. The first reported case of VHD in the US occurred in April of 2000, one reported and confirmed case was reported in Manitoba, Canada in March of 2011.  It was an isolated case and no others were reported.

The symptoms and rapid onset of this disease are very frightening. Symptoms range from sudden death, lethargy, loss of appetite, upper and lower respiratory congestion, fever, spasms, or bleeding from the nose, mouth or rectum. Death is caused by massive internal hemorrhaging of one or more organs and occurs within 18-48 hours. This virus can remain viable on dry clothing for 105 days at temperatures of 68 degrees and 2 days at 140 degrees. Therefore, it can be transmitted long after contact with an infected animal.

Vaccines are available in China, Europe and Australia, but none have been approved for use in the US. Although this is a disease that has yet to truly surface in Canada, everyone should be aware of it and the significance that such a disease would have on our domestic house rabbits.

For more detailed information see the web site:

VHD Facts – House Rabbit Network

Read information regarding bringing rabbits into Canada. Rabbits coming into Canada from other countries need a certificate showing they are VHD free. Rabbits coming in from the US do not!

Canadian Import Laws