72 (2) 137-143

D. Vandekerchove, S. Roels, P. Butaye, K. Van Den Berge, J. Peeters

During the period of July 1999 through June 2002, carcasses of wild rabbits that had been shot or found dead and livers originating from wild rabbits that had been shot for consumption were collected in Flanders. One hundred and twelve carcasses were suitable for necropsy and histological and bacteriological analysis; histological analysis was possible in 41 livers. Considering the 112 rabbit carcasses only, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) was found to be present in 33.9% of the cases. RHD was the most prevalent wild rabbit pathology detected in this study, before staphylococcosis (12.5%), and myxomatosis (10.7%). None of the liver samples from rabbits shot for consumption were positive for RHD. Of the 38 histologically RHD positive samples, 24 were analyzed with the hemagglutination (HA) technique, yielding 58.3% positive results. Seven samples that were histologically positive for RHD but HA negative were examined by transmission electron microscopy and were found positive for calicivirus. This proves that HA-negative RHD strains are circulating in the Flemish wild rabbit population.

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