New fatal diseases that spread easily are scary for pet owners. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Diarrhea Virus 2 (RHDV2) is one such disease. It is not a new virus, but it is new to the U.S. It can spread rapidly in the wild and is fatal to all rabbits, domestic and wild. It is not contagious to humans and other animals, but there is no known cure and there is no licensed vaccine in this country.
Here are some important measures that you should take to protect your rabbits:
- Do not acquire rabbits from regions of the country with positive cases of RHDV2. This map of infected areas is a helpful resource.
- Do not allow pet or wild rabbits to have contact with your rabbits or enter the facility or home. If you must bring outside rabbits into your facility or home, keep them separated from your existing rabbits for at least 30 days and monitor closely for signs of disease. Use separate equipment for newly acquired or sick rabbits to avoid spreading disease.
- 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 or from those that cannot confirm the rabbit’s health status for 30 days prior to acquisition.
- Sanitize all equipment and cages moved on or off premises before they are returned to the rabbit housing area. We recommend disinfecting with 10% bleach or 10% sodium hydroxide mixed with water.
- Establish a working relationship with a veterinarian to review your biosecurity practices for identification and closure of possible gaps.
- Report all cases of rapid and/or unexplained rabbit death to your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will then follow up with the appropriate state or animal health official if warranted.
If you would like to be added to the Agency’s rabbit industry distribution list to receive electronic updates on this issue, please contact Kristin.firstname.lastname@example.org with that request. You may direct general questions to the Agency at (802)828-2421.
For more information about rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) in Vermont, please click here.