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In Australia, pet rabbits should be vaccinated against Rabbit Calicivirus, also known as Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV). RHDV is a deadly virus released in 1996, to control the population of wild rabbits in Australia. A new strain of Rabbit Calicivirus - RHDV -K5, was released in 2017 to continue this control, and additionally, RHDV2 has been detected in Australia in 2015.

Why should I worry about Calicivirus in my rabbit? 

RHDV is an effective virus for controlling wild rabbit populations, and is deadly to your bunny.

Rabbit Calicivirus, which in this article we refer to as RHDV, is a highly contagious disease, with a 40-100% mortality rate.

RHDV spreads by direct contact with infected rabbits, or indirectly by infected urine/faeces on grass, equipment, and clothing, or via insects such as mosquitoes, flies and fleas.

Once infected, your rabbit may experience symptoms including,

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhoea
  • Or even death can occur 1-2 days after infection!

How is RHDV treated?  

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for RHDV. The only two options are;

  • Supportive care with a very poor prognosis
  • Euthanasia.



There is a vaccination for RHDV, however this vaccination does not provide absolute coverage for all forms of Rabbit Haemorrhagic disease virus. Despite this, the current best practice is regular vaccinations to provide the best protection possible.

You can also minimise the risk of exposing your bunny to RHDV by following the steps below:

  • Vaccinating your rabbit here at Peninsula Vet Care! The Australian Veterinary Association are recommending vaccinations every six months, to best protect your bunny!


  • RHDV can spread by infected wild rabbits, and by insects carrying the virus, such as mosquitoes, flies and fleas. You can limit this risk by rabbit proofing your yard, and using mosquito netting over your rabbits’ enclosure. You can also reduce outdoor playtime around dawn and dusk, as this is when mosquitoes are most active!
  • Washing your hands before handling your rabbit. RHDV can spread by infectious particles remaining on your hands, clothes or other objects!

If you have any more questions about to protect your rabbit from RHDV, please give us a call to speak to one of our vets!