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Prevent Spread of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHDV2) 

Like rabbit owners, breeders, and veterinarians across the country, I have been closely monitoring the emerging outbreak of RHDV2, a foreign virus that’s killing domestic rabbits, wild rabbits and hares. Our hearts are heavy for families whose pet bunnies died; some lost their entire rabbitry and others had rabbits “depopulated” to prevent the spread. Wild rabbits are already dying in six states.

We need all Minnesotans to prevent the preventable: Visit to learn symptoms: Notify officials if you see a sick/dead wild rabbit. Pet owners should follow safety guidelines.  Farmers and breeders should tighten up biosecurity and find local feed sources (the virus can survive 3 months in hay/grass without a host). Plan mass vaccination logistics. Plan to conserve rare breeds.  We need government agencies to be proactive, strategic, and not reactionary. 

Although no vaccine is approved for use in the US, the USDA and State Vets in outbreak areas can grant emergency permits for veterinarians to import inactivated RHDV2 vaccines from France or Spain.  But not until there’s a proven case in your state.  It’s counter-intuitive to wait until the deadly virus is actively spreading in Minnesota before veterinarians can START the ordering/importing process.  Assuming adequate supply is available to meet demand when needed, it takes several weeks for permit approval, international transportation, and actual vaccine appointments.  Add another week delay for rabbits to develop immunity. A deadly delay.  Contact your Board of Animal Health: Approve vet purchase of vaccines NOW, preparing our state to save our rabbits.


(Original written and submitted by CS 5/20/2020    Feel free to use this letter for your local press).

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