Since the beginning of this year, many of us have adopted new habits in order to protect ourselves from the virus that sent Singapore into Circuit Breaker Mode in April, which lasted for 56 days. For owners of rabbits everywhere on the island, these new habits, which are often about enhancing one’s personal hygiene, will definitely come in very handy.
On 17 September, the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) announced that 8 out of the 11 rabbits that have been diagnosed with Rabbit Haemorraphic Disease (RHD) have passed away. Though RHD does not affect humans or other animals, a RHD diagnosis for a rabbit often means death. According to AVS, it is an acute and highly contagious disease. It is also fast-acting, as death can occur between 12 to 36 hours once the rabbit starts showing visible symptoms.
Though RHD sometimes has no symptoms, rabbit owners should watch out for the following symptoms should they develop:
Lack of interest in food
Discharge from the nose
Rabbit owners should also be aware that there are 2 strains of RHD. The vaccine for RHD-1 has been available for many years with the vaccine for RHD-2 being newer and potentially harder to acquire. Vets recommend that rabbit owners vaccinate their rabbits as well as take precautionary measures.
It all has to do with how the virus spreads, which is by direct contact. Bodily excretions, food, clothing, shoes, insects, birds are all potential disease vectors.
These recommended measures, by the way, sound a lot like the measures we all had to take when the virus was at its peak in Singapore.
For example, rabbit owners are urged to minimize contact between bunnies who live in separate households. Remember when you couldn’t visit your grandparents? You are also encouraged to wash your hands with warm soapy water before and after handling each rabbit.
Insects are a potential vector for disease, so insect control is important. Make sure they have no way of accessing your rabbit or its food!
Finally, it is advisable to keep your bunnies indoors, where the risk of exposure is limited.
Do you know someone who works with or has bunnies? Share this news with them today and let’s work together to limit the spread of RHD and keep Singapore’s rabbit population healthy!