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Rabbit Haemorrhagic Virus is spreading like Ebola Part 1

Dr Karli Du Preez

Cape Town – Experts have likened the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease to that of the Ebola virus in humans, stating it is killing the little animals like wildfire across the country, as it continues to spread a year after it was detected. This is according to Dr Karli du Preez, who is the owner of Exotic Vet in Century City and practices as a Veterinarian. Du Preez told Weekend Argus, the virus was so aggressive it was killing each rabbit in its path. In the Southern Cape, 15 rabbits have died. Du Preez explained that Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is deadly and that it causes internal bleeding and death in rabbits. “It is a rabbit specific virus. It spreads very quickly and easily and unvaccinated rabbits have very little chance to survive it,” she detailed. Du Preez added the current outbreak was ongoing and was becoming problematic.

RHDV Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Vaccination at Exotic Vet Century City

Reggie Ngcobo, The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development announced the outbreak of the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) in the Western and Northern Cape provinces a year ago. The department reported die-offs of wild rabbits and hares from the Karoo areas in the Western and Northern Cape Provinces. They said, RHD is a disease caused by a virus (Calicivirus) and this is the first detection of the disease in South Africa. He said the disease results in a high number of deaths in rabbits and hares and animals die suddenly with bleeding in the organs such as the liver, kidney and spleen and that it was unclear how the disease could have entered the country, since the importation of rabbits and hares is not allowed. Investigations are under way to determine whether illegal importation could be the source. Weekend Argus has since approached the Department whether they have determined where it originated from. In January, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s state veterinarian said there were approximately 350 reported deaths. It is unclear what the current number stands at. “The outbreak is very bad, there are rabbits dying every day and the virus can wipe out a whole colony in a few hours,” she explained. “Gauteng and the Western Cape are the provinces that have had the most cases. “It is a horrible death. “In South Africa there have been hundreds of deaths associated with the Rabbit Haemorrhagic disease virus. “The virus is spreading like wildfire and killing every rabbit in its wake. “It can be compared to the Ebola virus in humans, but one that only affects rabbits. “ She said the best treatment was vaccination and advised that all new rabbits be vaccinated and quarantined for one month before any introductions into a rescue centre of flock “In our clinic we have separate consultation rooms for the vaccinated and unvaccinated rabbits, we then have three wards. 1 isolation ward where any unvaccinated ill rabbits go, one ward for the rabbits who are still within the 7 days post vaccine and thus not protected yet and then a third ward for the vaccinated rabbits,” she stated. “We also disinfect between each patient and wear bio security protective gowns and gear when handling any rabbit that is unvaccinated.