Highly contagious rabbit disease identified in Hartford County

Highly contagious rabbit disease identified in Hartford County

(WFSB) — A highly contagious rabbit disease has been discovered in Hartford County, according to the state.

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture said that rabbit hemorrhagic disease type 2 (RHDV2) virus was found in a home.

The state said RHDV2 is a highly contagious exotic animal disease. It can be fatal to both wild and wild rabbits.

The state said the disease could not be transmitted from animals to humans.

The department reported the sudden death of 13 rabbits on September 6. 14 rabbits died on 8 September.

Laboratory tests on September 11 confirmed the discovery of RHDV2.

“While this case is an isolated incident and limited to one family, rabbit owners are encouraged to ensure appropriate sanitary and hygienic measures to prevent disease by taking simple steps to reduce the chance of rabbits being infected with RHDV2,” the Department of Agriculture said.

“The difference between the native RHDV1 and this one is that not only our domestic rabbits can be affected but also wild rabbits, such as the jack rabbit and the cottontail,” said Dr. Peter Sojka, an exotic animal veterinarian at Pieper Veterinary. “It stays on shoes and clothes for hundreds of days and it is difficult to control infection at home.”

Experts say the virus cannot be transmitted from animals to humans, and there are preventive steps you can take to keep your rabbits safe.

“Don’t introduce rabbits into your household especially wild and feral rabbits, and if you are going to do that, keep them properly quarantined for at least 30 days to monitor their health and another important thing is to avoid sharing equipment between different households,” Sojka said.

Since the virus was detected in the state, places like the Berlin Agricultural Fair, which kicks off Thursday, are making adjustments to their rabbit fair.

“For the welfare of the animals, we decided to cancel the rabbit fairs this year and we didn’t feel that the presence of animals or any animals at risk of getting sick and dying or spreading disease was worth holding the exhibition this year,” said Leonard Tubbs of the Berlin Agricultural Fair.

The fair adds that they are offering free entry to all exhibitors rabbits to next year’s fair.

The department offered tips that can help prevent the spread of the disease:

  • Do not allow hares or pet rabbits from other locations to come into contact with your rabbits or into your facility or home.
  • Do not allow visitors in rabbits or allow them to handle pet rabbits without protective clothing (including coats, shoe covers, hair covers, and gloves).
  • Always wash your hands with warm, soapy water before entering the rabbit area, after removing protective clothing and when leaving the rabbit area.
  • Do not offer fresh rabbits from unknown or unreliable sources.
  • If you bring rabbits from outside into your facility or home, keep them separate from your existing rabbits for at least 30 days. Use separate equipment for newly acquired or sick rabbits to avoid spreading disease.
  • Sterilize all equipment and cages transported inside or outside the premises before returning them to the rabbit’s residence.

According to the state, the source of the outbreak has not been identified. Clinical signs of rabbit bleeding disease include sudden death, fever, decreased appetite, respiratory signs, neurological signs, internal bleeding leading to bloody noses, and anemia. “The disease was confirmed by collecting tissue samples after death,” the department said.

For more information about the disease, click here.

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