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This is an acute fatal disease of rabbits with high infectivity, high sickness rate and high death rate.  It occurs throughout the whole year.  The transmission is by direct contact (i.e. rabbit to rabbit) and indirect contact (food bowls, food, faeces and urine) and via all other routes (mouth, eyes, lips and skin). The RCD virus is present in blood, organs, secretions, and excretions and on skin and mucus membranes, especially in the terminal stages of the diseases.


Affected rabbits die suddenly following 6-24 hours of fever, depression and progressive quietness.  Most die with minimal APPARENT distress. Susceptibility is affected by age, rabbits less than 1 month old are fully resistant to natural infection, some aged between 1-2 months of age may be affected, rabbits older than 2 months are fully and very susceptible. 


• Avoid contact with wild rabbits.
• Avoid all other rabbit contacts unless necessary and ensure the other rabbits are isolated (ie. don’t mix with others often) and are vaccinated.
• Do gather/buy food from areas where wild rabbit contact is not possible.
• Wash hands, utensils etc. if any risk of transmission from suspicious sources exists.
• VACCINATE YOUR RABBITS - a killed RCD vaccine is available from your veterinarian.  A single dose given at 12 weeks of age will give protection for one year at least.  Yearly boosters are needed to ensure good immunity.

If the risk of infection is high then two doses of vaccine should be given to younger rabbits: the first at 9-10 weeks of age and the second three weeks later at 12-13 weeks old.  It must be emphasised that the second vaccine at 12-13 weeks of age is essential to affect immunity in these younger rabbits

© Forrest Hill Vets (2000) Ltd