Spring 2020

Although there might be signs and symptoms (red box below)  that a pet owner might discover prior to the rabbit dying, often sudden death is the first and only sign.  Carriers that do not die often shed the disease for virus for months (USDA).

 RHDV2 (Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease V2)  is a "highly contagious disease caused by a strain of the RHD virus that is infecting and killing domestic rabbits and wild rabbits."  (USDA). Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD), whether from classical RHDV strains or RHDV-2, often kills rabbits without outward signs of disease. "Many times, the only signs of the disease are sudden death and blood-stained noses caused by internal bleeding," APHIS information states.

RHDV1 was first seen in China in 1984 from rabbits imported from Germany.
It has since spread to many other countries with the RHDV2 virus strain finding its way into the U.S.A., first in Ohio 2018, then Washington 2019.

Over the past few months there have been confirmed RHDV2 cases
in both wild & domestic rabbits in the Southwest where this foreign virus
has never been before including: 
    Arizona          Nevada
    California       New Mexico
    Colorado       Texas     
*UTAH -- just added mid June 2020


* SCIENCE magazine

Journal of American Vet Med Association (June 2020)



While the rest of the world is understandably focused on COVID19, veterinarians, organizations and rabbit owners have been increasingly busy networking, planning and beginning to mobilize to "prevent the preventable."   


As an analogy, once the barn door is open and the virus takes hold in the wild population, it will be nearly impossible to close the door again. Because there is no USDA-approved vaccine, pet owners, breeders, vets and rescue groups are scrambling to improve biosecurity.  Many domestic rabbit owners are pushing for federal and state approval that would allow veterinarians to purchase and import the proven RHDV2 vaccines nationwide from France or Spain, anticipating the spread and the  delay to order & import the vaccine once a case is confirmed in their state.

As of 6/20/20 only states where there are current documented cases have been given approval.  (More info see VACCINE)

Rabbit Hemorragic Disease Virus 2

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