Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

An outbreak of rabbit hemorrhagic disease in Finland.

Abstract

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) was detected in European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) for the first time ever in Finland in 2016. Reports of dead feral rabbits in Helsinki started to accumulate from April 2016. The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira received the first animals in late April, and the main necropsy finding was severe, acute necrotizing hepatitis. Genetic material from RHD virus (RHDV) was detected in the liver and was further characterized as RHDV2. The Finnish virus did not group with RHDV strains from a concurrent outbreak in neighboring Sweden, suggesting another origin. The outbreak peaked in May and lasted until August, after which sightings of both live and dead rabbits became rare. No major outbreaks in domestic rabbits were observed, although infection in one pet rabbit was confirmed.