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Vaccine candidate against rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 confers protection in domestic rabbits


A study led by Colorado State University’s Dr. Angela Bosco-Lauth aimed to evaluate the efficacy of a novel vaccine against rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) in domestic rabbits.

Published Nov. 7 in the American Journal of Veterinary Research, the study included 40 New Zealand White rabbits obtained from a commercial breeder. Co-authors included researchers from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center and Medgene Labs, LLC.

The rabbits were vaccinated and held at the production facility for the duration of the vaccination phase and transferred to Colorado State University for challenge with RHDV2. Rabbits were challenged with oral suspensions containing infectious virus and monitored for clinical disease for up to 10 days. Rabbits that died or were euthanized following infection were necropsied, and livers were evaluated for viral RNA via RT-PCR.

None of the vaccinated animals, zero out of nine, exhibited clinical disease or mortality following infection with RHDV2 while nine of 13 of the control animals succumbed to lethal disease following infection.

Researchers concluded that the novel vaccine provided complete protection against lethal infection following RHDV2 challenge. Outside of emergency use, there are currently no licensed vaccines against RHDV2 on the market in the U.S. This vaccine candidate would provide an option for control of this disease now that RHDV2 has become established in North America.

Angela M. Bosco-Lauth, Bethany Cominsky, Stephanie Porter, J. Jeffrey Root, Amber Schueler, Gary Anderson, Sara VanderWal and Andy Benson. “A novel vaccine candidate against rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) confers protection in domestic rabbits.” American Journal of Veterinary Research. Published online 07 Nov 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2460/ajvr.22.05.0095

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