Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (RHDV2) was first detected in South Carolina after animal health authorities were alerted to the sudden death of feral rabbits in a Greenville County home.
The Clemson University Veterinary Diagnostic Center tested rabbits in Columbia, and the diagnosis was confirmed by the USDA-APHIS Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The rabbits surviving at the site have been placed in quarantine, and animal health authorities have asked owners to contain them in cages to avoid further spread and prevent further contact with wild rabbits.
Clinical signs of the virus include sudden death, loss of appetite, lethargy, conjunctivitis, respiratory signs, and bloody nose or mouths.
RHDV2 is a highly contagious virus that infects domestic or wild rabbits, hares, and hares. The virus is transmitted by infected rabbits and is transmitted through direct contact, bedding, water, feed, hay and other materials used in the care and feeding of rabbits. It can also be spread by insects and human contact.
While RHDV2 does not affect human health, it has a high mortality rate in both domestic and wild rabbits, and has become endemic to the western United States. There is no live test for RHDV2.
The introduction of RHDV2 to wild rabbits in South Carolina poses a serious threat to wild populations and has contributed to significant mortality events in the western United States. It is important that we do what we can to prevent contact between infected hares and hares.
The USDA recommends the following biosecurity practices:
- Do not allow pets or hares to come into contact with your rabbit or enter the 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 soap and warm water before entering the rabbit area, after removing protective clothing and before leaving the rabbit area.
- Do not offer fresh rabbits from unknown or unreliable sources. Do not add rabbits to your rabbit from animal shelters or any other types of rescues.
- 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. Disinfection with 10% bleach or 10% sodium hydroxide mixed with water is recommended (follow cleaning label instructions).
- Establish a working relationship with a veterinarian to review disease prevention and containment (biosecurity) practices to reduce risks to healthy rabbits.
Additional information and biosecurity recommendations can be found by visiting Clemson LPH Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus . webpage.
Rabbit owners are encouraged to discuss vaccination options with their vet.
If your rabbit becomes ill or dies and you suspect RHDV2, please contact your vet.
Veterinarians can submit samples for testing by calling Clemson Veterinary Diagnostic Center at 803-726-7831.
Concerns about hares should be directed to the HC Department of Natural Resources: Michael Hawke; 803-734-3940; [email protected]
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