Deadly Virus That Can Kill Rabbits In 48 Hours Hits The UK


A highly contagious virus which can kill a rabbit in only 48 hours has been reported to have reached the UK.

Veterinarians have dealt with recent cases of VHD, or viral haemorrhagic disease which can become extremely dangerous to our furry friends.

Viral haemorrhagic disease is extremely contagious with an incubation period of around 1-3 days it is almost exclusively fatal.

Death of the rabbit will normally occur with a short period of 12 -36 hours after the first signs of fever.

The Star Vet Clinic in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, reported its first cases of the virus this week.

‘VHD is caused by a virus called Rabbit Calicivirus which affects the internal organs of the rabbit causing these to haemorrhage,’ Pets4Home writes. ‘The resulting blood loss is impossible to control. The liver and kidneys are usually the first organs to be affected followed by the intestines and trachea.

‘Once infected signs can escalate quickly and the rabbit should be taken for veterinary attention as soon as VHD is suspected.’

In many cases death can happen without any signs. With a rabbit who is suffering from  severe form of VHD, one of the first clinical signs is a high fever, if you notice this and any of these listed symptoms it is important to consult your vet straight away.


Tragically there is no cure for VHD. It is estimated 50-100 per cent of rabbits suffering from VHD will die and those who do survive remain carriers so should be kept away from other rabbits and animals.

Your veterinary surgeon may recommend treatment such as fluid therapy and nursing support but in some instances where the rabbit is suffering it might be kinder to consider euthanasia.

Without access to a cure, prevention is the best method of safeguarding your rabbit from VHD.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]