Recommendations for Disinfectants for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Calicivirus

Environmental Persistence of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Calicivirus

  • Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) calicivirus is spread by oral, nasal and parenteral transmission

  • The virus is present in urine and feces from infected rabbits, thus contaminated bedding can be a source of infection

  • Contaminated foods can be a source of infection.

  • The virus survives at pH 3.0, is stable at pH 4.5-10.5, but is inactivated at pH>12

  • The virus can survive for long periods outside the host. For example:

    • Viable virus has been detected for as long as 105 days in its dried state on a fomite (cloth) at    room temperature.

  • Environmental temperature and protection by organic material are important factors in the survival of the virus

    • Virus may persist in chilled or frozen rabbit meat and the lengthy persistence of infective virus in carcasses may provide a reservoir of disease after outbreaks in the wild, as viable virus has been found in decaying tissue after 90 days outdoor.

    • At 50C (122F) the virus survives for 1 hour

    • It can remain viable for 22-35 days at 22C (72F) but only for 3-7 days at 37C (99F). It also survives freeze-thaw cycles.


The RHD calicivirus is inactivated by sodium hydroxide (1%) or formalin (1-2%) as well as 1.0–1.4% formaldehyde or 0.2–0.5% beta-propiolactone at 4C (39F). Chlorine dioxide at 10 ppm concentration also kills this virus.

Other suggested disinfectants include sodium hypochlorite (1:10 dilution household bleach), substituted phenolics such as 2% One-stroke Environ® (Vestal Lab Inc., St. Louis, MO), and potassium peroxymonosulfate (e.g. 1% Virkon-S by DuPont).

Because calicivirus lacks the fatty envelope that most viruses have, its infectivity is NOT reduced by ether or chloroform and trypsin or quaternary ammonium compounds.


1. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease. June 2016. The Center for Food Security & Public Health, Iowa State University. Available at:

2. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Standard Operating Procedures: 1. Overview of Etiology and Ecology. October 2013. Foreign Animal Disease Preparedness & Response Plan (FAD PReP). USDA-APHIS-VS.

3. Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. In: Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. Frances Harcourt-Brown, ed. ButterworthHeinemann, Oxford, UK. 2002; pp 380-382.

4. Virucidal efficacy of four new disinfectants. 2002. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 38(3): 231-4.

5. Evaluation of the Antiviral Activity of Chlorine Dioxide and Sodium Hypochlorite against Feline Calicivirus, Human Influenza Virus, Measles Virus, Canine Distemper Virus, Human Herpesvirus, Human Adenovirus, Canine Adenovirus and Canine Parvovirus. 2010. Biocontrol Sci 15: 45-49. Available at:

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