What you need to know about the highly fatal rabbit disease in Singapore

Rabbit owners are advised to implement social-distancing measures for their rabbits.

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Published: 23 September 2020, 7:56 PM

Local rabbit owners should take precautionary measures against the extremely infectious, acute and deadly Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD). As of Sep 17, 2020, it has infected 11 rabbits locally, with eight deaths among them.

The source of infection is currently unknown and infected rabbits have no overseas travel history, said NParks.

RHD is transmitted via direct contact with infected fluids, fur, carcasses, fomites and insects. The incubation period of the virus is between one to five days, with symptoms including anorexia, dullness, prostration, nervous signs, groans and cries, breathing difficulties and discharge from the nose.

This disease is not zoonotic and cannot spread to humans or other animal species.

The Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) is working with veterinary clinics to obtain the vaccinations available in Europe, but it may take a while before it can be imported.

While waiting for the vaccine, here are seven ways pet owners can protect their rabbits from RHD, as suggested by The Animal Doctors Singapore and NParks.

1. Keep contact between their rabbits and visitors (both humans and rabbits) to a minimum

2. Avoid the addition of new rabbits in the household

3. Practise good personal hygiene such as washing hands

4. Keep the living environment of the rabbits clean

5. Bring them for veterinary treatment if they are not well. Otherwise, defer elective consultations and elective routine surgeries

6. Make appointments with rabbit groomers in advance to avoid contact with other rabbits

7. Install insect screens if windows are open at home as insects are carriers of the virus

Take note that all RHD suspect cases must be reported to AVS, as it is a notifiable animal disease in Singapore and to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

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