U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Root, J.J., and T. Gidlewski. 2023. Rabbit hemorrhagic disease. pgs 259-272. In: D.A. Jessup and R.W. Radcliffe, editors. Wildlife disease and health in conservation. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland. 468 pp.


U.S. government work


The étiologie agents of rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) are rabbit hemorrhagic disease viruses (RHDVs). These highly contagious viruses are members of the viral family Caliciviridae, genus Lagovinis (Schoch et al. 2020) and negatively affect various lagomorph species, often causing high mortality rates in select taxa. While other lagomorph-associated caliciviruses exist, we focus on RHDV (aJso known ais classical RHDV including subtype RHDVa) and RHDV2 (also know as subtype RHDVb and RHDV serotype 2) within this chapter, with a major emphasis on recent outbreaks of RHDV2 in wildlife in North America. Although the bulk of the research associated with environmental persistence, viral shedding, and transmission has been directed towards classical RHDV, RHDV2 is thought to have similar traits (USDA 2020a). As will be evident in this chapter, the environmental stability of RHDVs can be so long that the epidemiology of these viruses in wild populations can be quite complicated. This disease is a dassic example of the dangers associated with the introduction and establishment of a foreign animal pathogen transmitted from domestic animals into wildlife (Tom Gidlewski, personal observation).