a highly fatal, contagious disease of European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) but other rabbit species and other wildlife are not susceptible. Caused by rabbit calicivirus; the virus while typical of caliciviruses has not been cultivated. The disease is related to European Brown Hare syndrome but cross-transmission between hares and rabbits of either virus does not occur; spread is by contact, possibly by infected feces, fomites, possibly by spread of carrion by birds, and by recently contaminated insects such as bush flies. After infection rabbits show few clinical signs other than depression and immobility and die after an illness of about 18 hours. Characteristic gross necropsy lesions are enlargement of the liver and spleen and small, focal, pulmonary hemorrhages. There is massive liver necrosis which is believed to be the trigger for disseminated intravascular coagulation. Rabbits less than 6 weeks of age are curiously not susceptible to fatal disease. An effective vaccine is available. Called also rabbit calicivirus disease.
Copyright: Blood DC, Studdert VP, 1999. Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary, 2nd Edition. London, UK: WB Saunders.
Date of entry: 19/02/2009