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General biosecurity recommendations for rabbits

Biosecurity measures, which are practices intended to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, are an essential component in protecting animal health. Rabbit breeders and owners are encouraged to adopt the following biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of the spread of many infectious diseases in rabbits, including rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD).

Additional advice is available in the National Farm-Level Biosecurity Planning Guide Proactive Management of Animal Resources.

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) is a serious viral disease of European rabbits that spreads easily and quickly in susceptible rabbit populations.  Many domestic (pet) rabbit breeds are derived from the European rabbit and are susceptible to infection. High rates of illness and death can occur in exposed rabbits.

The virus spreads among rabbits through secretions including saliva, runny eyes and nose, urine, feces and contaminated bedding, food and water. It can also be spread by humans, wildlife and insects on contaminated clothing, fur, and other surfaces. The virus can survive for long periods of time in the environment and remain infectious to animals.

The disease does not affect humans and is not known to affect other animals. In Canada, RHD has occurred infrequently in domestic rabbit populations and federally is an immediately notifiable disease; laboratories are required to notify the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) of suspected or diagnosed of the disease

Some key biosecurity measures include the following.

People and equipment

Animals

Feed, water, bedding

Additional information

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