After deadly rabbit virus discovered in Wisconsin, vets urge owners to vaccinate animals |  WUWM 89.7 FM

After deadly rabbit virus discovered in Wisconsin, vets urge owners to vaccinate animals | WUWM 89.7 FM

Rabbit owners in Wisconsin may wish to vaccinate their pets because a deadly and contagious virus has been discovered in the state. It’s so devastating that some pet owners have dubbed it “rabbit Ebola.” While the virus is often fatal to both domestic animals and hares, it does not affect humans or other animal species.

In mid-August, three pet rabbits died suddenly in La Crosse County. They had rabbit hemorrhagic disease type 2, or RHDV2. The state Department of Agriculture, Commerce and Consumer Protection reported that this was The first cases of the virus in Wisconsinwho has been in the US since February 2020. No more cases have been identified since August, but there are fears it could spread further.

Dr. Darlene Kunkle, the state veterinarian, said the state has been monitoring the virus and preparing the response since it began spreading in the southwest and moving east.

“I don’t know we thought it was inevitable in Wisconsin, but we certainly have seen discoveries in other states outside the southwestern United States,” Kunkle said. “Minnesota has discoveries, and so do some other states in the eastern part of the United States.”

There is no treatment available for the virus, which eats rabbit livers and causes organ failure. Sick animals do not always show signs of infection. Often the only signs of the disease are a bloody nose, which results from internal bleeding and sudden death.

Some are concerned that information about the disease has not been released. Sharon Mueller, Branch Manager Wisconsin House Rabbit AssociationShe encouraged members of her organization to vaccinate their rabbits.

“It wasn’t as if the news was all over the place,” said Muller, who raises rabbits from her home in New Berlin. “Maybe because they are rabbits, and rabbits are not something that gets a lot of attention – unlike dogs and cats. If something like this happened in the world of dogs and cats, you would hear about it everywhere.”

According to Dr. Molly Casey, a veterinarian and co-owner at Brook Falls Veterinary Hospital in Menomonee Falls, there is an effective vaccine for this disease. She recommends it to all her clients who have pet rabbits no more than four weeks old.

Casey said the virus is transmitted in the blood or secretions of sick rabbits.

“It’s something you can put on your shoes and clothes when you’re out for a walk,” Kase said. “Unfortunately, it would be too easy, if someone called her for a walk and then brought her home, so that his rabbit could catch her.”

to me Spread Reduction From the virus, Kase recommended people not to wear shoes at home. People who work in shelters with other rabbits should change their clothes when they get home. People who have dogs or cats should also keep an eye on those animals, as they can track the virus indoors as well.

When Amber Winkler learned that the virus had reached Wisconsin, she decided it was time to take her rabbit, Spartacus, to see Dr. Kase for the shot.

She was hesitant about it at first: Spartacus was 10 years old, and she was worried about side effects at his age.

Dr. Molly Casey Spartacus gives his first dose of RHDV2 vaccine.

“Then I got an email that there are cases now in La Crosse, and it’s closer than that,” Winkler said. “Not worth the risk.”

On Thursday, Winkler arrived at the vet’s office with Spartacus in her arms. He is a large black rabbit with wide eyes and playful ears. He had an appointment for his first dose of the vaccine. Three weeks later, he’ll be back for the second dose. After that, rabbits need annual boosters.

An aide helped keep Spartacus still, gently holding him above his eyes and tail. Kase quickly pressed the needle into the small dip behind his head.

Spartacus took the shot like a hero, and was rewarded with rewards. However, Winkler said it could take a few hours before he would forgive her for taking him to the vet.

Rabbit owners should contact veterinarians to schedule vaccinations or report sick animals. To report multiple cases of wild rabbit deaths, contact Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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