Iowa sees its first case of a highly contagious virus that kills rabbits

Iowa sees its first case of a highly contagious virus that kills rabbits

A case of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) was first detected in the state.

The virus – which can be fatal to rabbits and rabbits – was found in domesticated rabbits in Storey County on Monday, The Iowa Department of Agriculture reported.

The disease, for which there is no known cure, affects only rabbits and rabbits, and does not pose a threat to other animal species or humans. It made its debut in the southwestern states in 2020, infecting both domestic and wild rabbits. Since then, an isolated infection in pet rabbits across the Midwest has surfaced last year in neighboring states such as South Dakota and Minnesota.

Minnesota has reported an isolated incident of the virus Last month.

State veterinarian Jeff Kaisand said that Iowa rabbit owners should monitor their pets for any signs of illness before allowing them to interact with other rabbits. Symptoms include depression, fever, swollen eyelids and nosebleeds, Kaisand said.

“If you are going to exhibitions, events or mix shows, make sure to reduce the amount of contact that occurs during the show [and] Qaisand said.

Infected rabbits in Story County have not visited any fairs or fairs recently, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

Kaisand said the source of contamination with the virus may be difficult to trace. The virus can survive for a long time in both cold and hot temperatures, and it can spread from dead bodies, food, and water, and be carried on clothing and shoes.

Rabbit owners can vaccinate their pets against the virus for better protection. A Home for Every Bunny rabbit care coordinator Erin Calcquarf said the Central Iowa rabbit rescue operation encourages vaccination as a way to mitigate any spread.

“In the meantime, take steps in the house to make sure you protect your rabbits from any pets that go out regularly,” Calcwarf said. “Maybe you have a different pair of shoes or slippers that you wear around your house so you don’t bring anything home by yourself.”

Calquarf, who also works at the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, also recommends washing any lettuce or vegetables in hot water before feeding rabbits and using trustworthy food sources.

She said only vaccinated rabbits would be available for adoption.

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the RHDV2 vaccine last year. Caesand said the vaccine in Iowa should be given by a vet.

State officials are also encouraging Iowa residents to report any suspected incidents of illness to veterinarians or directly to the Department of Agriculture.

Although this area has only seen infestations for domesticated rabbits, the disease is also a threat to wild rabbits, said Rachel Roden, a wildlife veterinarian with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

She said an outbreak among the white-tailed jack rabbit, one of two types of rabbit common in Iowa, could hurt the species, which has a fragmented population throughout the state.

“Having these pockets of population might be a protection in a way because if it spreads into the wild – not all of the jakarpts will be detected,” she said. “But, there is also not a lot of surplus to recover from.”

Infected rabbits can die between one to two weeks after contracting the disease. Rabbits can survive the disease, but the majority succumb to the virus. Some rabbits may die before clinical signs appear.


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