Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2(RHDV2)
New Rabbit Virus in Southern California
San Diego Humane Society is closely monitoring a highly contagious and deadly disease in wild and domestic rabbits called Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Type 2.
According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the first confirmed case of the virus is in a black-tailed jackrabbit in Palm Springs. At this time, no other California rabbit populations are known to be infected, but the disease has spread quickly in other states, including New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Texas and Mexico.
RHDV2 is not related to coronavirus; it does not affect humans or domestic animals other than rabbits. It is transmitted via direct contact with infected rabbits. RHDV2 can also be transmitted indirectly by shared bedding, feed, water, feces and fomites. Clinical signs include fever, lethargy, anorexia, neurologic deficits, abnormal vocalizations and sudden death. Some rabbits can appear healthy and develop clinical signs acutely. Young rabbits four to eight weeks of age can be asymptomatic
To protect your rabbit:
- Keep your rabbit indoors. Do not let your rabbit come into physical contact with other rabbits from outside your home.
- Wash your hands before and after handling your rabbit.
- Change your clothes if you have come in contact with other rabbits.
- Disinfect shoes and other objects that may be contaminated.
- Know your hay and feed sources. Only purchase from a trusted manufacturer.
- Do not feed foraged plants, grasses or tree branches.
- Install window and door screens to eliminate mosquitos and flies inside.
- Quarantine any new rabbit in the home for at least 10 days.
- Use rabbit safe monthly flea treatment (as prescribed by your veterinarian only) for rabbits, cats and dogs, especially if any pets go outside.
- Contact your veterinarian if your rabbit becomes sick.
San Diego Humane Society has created a comprehensive protocol for admission and medical evaluation of rabbits to help prevent the spread of RHDV2. At this time, we are not admitting pet rabbits from outside San Diego County.
The CDFW is requesting the public report sightings of sick or dead wild rabbits, hares, or pikas to the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab at 916-358-2790 or file a report through the CDFW website. Outdoor recreationists should take precaution when hiking, camping or backpacking and not handle or disturb carcasses to minimize the potential spread of RHDV2.