Rabbit Calici Virus

by Barbara Eddy, Veterinary Nurse

Rabbit Calicivirus Disease is a contagious disease that is deadly to rabbits. It was released in Otago in 1997 and has now been reported in most areas in both the North Island and South Island in New Zealand.

It is passed from direct contact (sick rabbit touching another rabbit) and from contaminated food, bedding, equipment (bowls, drinking bottles, cages etc).

Studies have shown that the virus can live in the environment for 105 days in 20 degree temperatures and even longer in colder environments. This means that if you use a cage/ bowl/ hay that has had a sick rabbit contaminate it, the virus could still be there for 3-4 months.

Rabbit Calicivirus Disease is very quick in onset and can kill a rabbit in as little as 24-72 hours. Most rabbits show very few or no signs at all when infected.

The best way to avoid this disease is vaccination. All rabbits should be vaccinated to protect them against this disease. Rabbits vaccinated under 12 weeks of age should have a booster every 3-4 weeks till they are 12 weeks old. Rabbits over 12 weeks of age need 1 vaccination. To maintain optimum protection your rabbit should have a yearly booster.

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