Haemagglutination and ELISA tests, and negative contrast electron microscopy, have been used to identify rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus in naturally occurring cases of the disease and in experimentally infected rabbits in the United Kingdom. Haemagglutination tests alone are not satisfactory for the diagnosis because non-haemagglutinating isolates of the virus, otherwise indistinguishable from others, have been found in some outbreaks. Haemagglutination inhibition tests have shown that a proportion of both commercial laboratory and wild rabbits in the UK are seropositive to the virus although they have not been associated with clinical disease. This observation, made previously in other parts of Europe, may indicate the longstanding circulation of a related but non-pathogenic strain of virus. Naturally occurring antibody appears to afford a high degree of protection against experimental challenge with virulent virus.
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