HRS Policies and Guidelines Regarding Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease

Nov 7, 2021 by Christie Taylor

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These are House Rabbit Society’s policies regarding rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) and our recommendations to reduce the spread of the disease and actions to be taken in the event of an outbreak. We must respond quickly if an outbreak occurs. It is important that HRS members cooperate and follow federal, state, and local governmental agency directions with regard to epidemic issues, such as RHD.

HRS Policies Regarding RHD

  1. The intent of HRS regarding RHD is to support caregivers to rabbits by collecting, evaluating, and disseminating information on RHD.
  2. The value of each companion rabbit is intrinsic and immeasurable, and this must be considered in policy conditions concerning RHD control.
  3. HRS recognizes the legal and ethical responsibility to report cases of this virulent disease and does not condone concealing this information from authorities.
  4. HRS shall not accept rabbits from areas where RHD is endemic without a 14-day quarantine.
  5. HRS shall not release membership or adoption records to authorities.
  6. HRS may appeal, on behalf of its members, any agency’s decision to recommend euthanasia for exposed companion rabbits in favor of less drastic measures such as strict quarantine.
  7. HRS will provide guidelines to protect rabbits during an outbreak.
  8. HRS volunteers shall follow the below-listed standards of practice recommended by HRS as to specific issues/topics, as well as those that from time to time shall be issued by HRS.

HRS General Guidelines Regarding RHDV

Guidelines to protect rabbits in an affected area during an outbreak:
  1. Limit contact (as much as possible) with places where rabbits might be found, including breeders, shows, pet stores, state and county fairs, veterinary offices, homes, animal shelters, and wild rabbit habitats.
  2. Disinfect one’s person and items –following approved procedures –when contact with such an area is unavoidable.
  3. Follow quarantine procedures as directed by the regulatory agency.
  4. If under mandatory quarantine by a regulatory agency, all rabbit movement into and out of the premises (including adoptions, purchases, exhibitions, sales, grooming, and nonessential veterinary care) should cease until the quarantine is over.
  5. Seek veterinary evaluation of any unexplained rabbit death.
  6. Quarantine any rabbit who MAY have been exposed to RHD –directly or indirectly – for 14 days.
  7. HRS strongly recommends vaccinating all rabbits to protect them against RHD.
Guidelines to protect rabbits after an outbreak:
  1. Disinfect affected premises following approved procedures.
  2. Allow no new rabbits on the premises for 12 weeks.

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