Important Statement by Veterinary Regulation Department on Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease

Lately I-news portal and discussions on social media reported about a Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease presence in Malta, the Veterinary Regulation Directorate has been following the situation.

The Veterinary Regulation Directorate would like to comment as follows:

From the picture shown, this looks to be a rabbit that has suffered from Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease, commonly known as VHD. Over the last year this disease, through a new variant (RHDV2), has arrived and it has been confirmed to be present in Malta.

The virus is highly resistant, but appropriate farm management which includes correct vaccination protocols can provide extremely good results. Like for every disease, animals should be kept away from potential sources of contamination, and correct carcass disposal procedures must be implemented. Carcasses should be incinerated to avoid that these could be eaten by birds (such as crows), or dogs that may vehicle the virus to other farms where biosecurity measures are not appropriate.

Those who keep rabbits as pets  or as a hobby , should have less problems but still the vaccination protocols  should be applied rigorously. Please, contact your local Veterinarian and follow the instructions given.

This disease is not a zoonosis, so it is not dangerous for humans. The Directorate regularly monitors farms and systematically checks the approved slaughterhouses when slaughtering takes place. Therefore, in general no sick animals, although not dangerous for the humans, enters the food chain.  Dead animals that may have also died of bacterial complications are always discarded. They do not enter the food chain. VRD would like to reiterate this disease is not transmissible to humans.

VRD is in constant  contact with the local rabbits associations, and to those who follow the recommendations we give do not experience problems.

VRD has also issued recommendations in view of the incoming Mnarja feast.