RVHD Found In Canadian Pet Rabbit (Exact Location Unknown)
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Director, Rabbit Industry Council
RHD detected in Canadian pet rabbit
Posted: May 13, 2011, 4:30 p.m., EDT
Canada�s National Center for Foreign Animal Diseases (NCFAD) has reported
positive results for rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) virus by conventional
RT-PCR and the finding of a Calicivirus-like agent by electron microscopy.
On March 30 a domestic neutered male rabbit presented at a local veterinary
clinic with lethargy and a yellow matter was observed on its fur. It was
diagnosed with liver failure and died during treatment. The body was
forwarded to the Manitoba Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural
Initiatives (MAFRI) laboratory.
Findings included jaundice, hepatic necrosis, some hemorrhages, moderate
meningoencephalitis and mild nephritis. A liver sample was sent to the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and NCFADto rule out RHD virus.
The positive sample�s nucleotide sequence had the closest match in Genbank
with an RHD virus isolate from China from 2006. On April 20 and 21,
histopathology confirmed lesions consistent with RHD and positive staining
for RHD virus antigens was shown by immunohistochemistry.
Three test rabbits were inoculated with material from the MAFRI submission
on April 26. All inoculated rabbits were strongly positive for RHD virus by
conventional RT-PCR. Histopathology on tissue from the inoculated rabbits
showed lesions consistent with RHD.
Immunohistochemistry on liver, spleen and kidney from inoculated rabbits
showed positive immunoreactivity for RHD virus and electron microscopy of a
liver homogenate was positive for Calicivirus-like particles. Sequencing of
the PCR amplicons from liver material from the three inoculated rabbits were
100 percent identical with one another as well as the original amplicon from
the submitted pet rabbit.
The infected pet was kept in an apartment with two other pet rabbits for
more than a year before becoming ill. None of the pet rabbits had contact
with commercial or wild rabbits.
After confirmation of the diagnosis on the index case, the two other pet
rabbits were inspected and tested by the CFIA with negative results (RT-PCR
on blood and cELISA for antibodies) which were released on May 6. Presently,
these two pet rabbits remain clinically healthy. The apartment owners
cleaned and disinfected the cage and the contact areas of the infected
CFIA considers this event in a non-commercial rabbit as resolved
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