A virus that affects both wild and pet rabbits has been reported in Southern Nevada.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 2, or RHDV2, appears to cause internal bleeding and sudden death when exposed.
Humans and other pets are not believed to be affected by this virus.
With early symptoms the rabbit may seem less playful and hungry. Then they may show a fever, respiratory symptoms and “nervous symptoms”. Internal bleeding may then occur, elicited sometimes by a bloody nose, and death may follow.
The virus was first detected on Vancouver Island, Canada in September of 2018 but KTNV reports there have been three known cases in Southern Nevada, one of which was a domestic rabbit.
Reporter Joe Bartels informs us that humans can indirectly carry the virus on their clothes and shoes as the virus can live on surfaces for up to 200 days.
Since there is no vaccine to prevent disease, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends the following:
Follow these recommended biosecurity practices:
• Do not allow pet, feral, or wild rabbits to have contact with your rabbits or gain entry to the facility or home.
• Do not allow visitors in rabbitries or let them handle pet rabbits without protective clothing (including coveralls, shoe covers, hair covering, and gloves).
• Always wash hands with warm soapy water before entering your rabbit area, after
removing protective clothing and before leaving the rabbit area.
• Do not introduce new rabbits from unknown or untrusted sources. Do not add rabbits to your rabbitry from animal shelters or other types of rescue operations.
• If you bring outside rabbits into your facility or home, keep them separated from your existing rabbits. Use separate equipment for newly acquired or sick rabbits to avoid spreading disease.
• Sanitize all equipment and cages moved on or off premises before they are returned to the rabbitry. We recommend disinfecting with 10% bleach or 10% sodium hydroxide mixed with water.
• Establish a working relationship with a veterinarian to review biosecurity practices for identification and closure of possible gaps.
Rabbit owners are urged to contact their veterinarian if they see signs of RHDV2.
This is a developing story…
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.