What is RHDV2?
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease is a highly contagious viral disease with high infection and death rates in domestic and wild rabbits.
How is it spread?
RHDV2 can be spread in a variety of ways. Primarily from contamination in the environment. However, there are other ways that it may spread: in the environment it can be in and on food, water, air, direct contact with live or deceased rabbits, equipment such as hutches, bedding, cage wire, and other things that your pet rabbit may have outside. It can also spread via fecal matter or rabbits that are infected, or even predators who may have eaten an infected rabbit. Flies, dust, and respiratory droplets can also spread the virus. It is very resistant to extreme temperatures, as such, it can travel in any weather and stay on surfaces for a long time. You can also spread it inside on your shoes if you walked through somewhere with contaminates.
Where has RHDV2 Been Identified in the US?
So far it has been found in a handful of states, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada. We are watching the spread very carefully to ensure that we know when it hits Utah.
What are the symptoms?
Rabbits can present symptoms such as poor appetite, depression, inactivity, and listlessness. They will have a fever, and some may present with bloody nasal discharge. Additional long-term infection symptoms can include jaundice, respiratory distress, diarrhea, weight loss, and bloating. Sudden, abrupt death can also occur without any symptoms showing.
What can you do to Prevent Infection?
The best recommendation right now is to keep your rabbit indoors. The virus transfers via infected wild rabbits for the most part, and can linger in an environment for quite a while. We are unsure of exactly how long, but the current information indicates that it could be there for days. You should also change your clothing upon entering your house and rabbit enclosure to ensure that you don’t bring something in on your shoes or pants. Wash hands before feeding or handling your rabbit. Do not bring a new rabbit into your home for the time being, as there is no way to know for sure if it is infected. If you are growing or harvesting ANY greens or veggies in your yard, ensure that you rinse them THOROUGHLY before giving them to your rabbit.
What are we at Wasatch Exotic Pet Care doing?
There are vaccines that have been developed for this virus that are available in other countries where RHDV2 has been established for years. As this is technically defined as a foreign animal disease, our hands are tied by the regulatory agencies in regard to importing vaccine. We have been advised by our state veterinarian’s office and our local USDA authorities that once it is identified within the state we may apply for permission to import the vaccine. IF we receive permission to do so, we will proceed with obtaining a supply as quickly as possible. We will make announcements both here and via our Facebook page if we are able to provide vaccine for our rabbit patients.
As we gain more information about RHDV2, we will update this page.
Source: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Fact Sheet, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Animal Services Division.
What is RHDV2?