Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS RABBIT HEMORRHAGIC DISEASE?
RHD is a highly contagious, fatal viral disease that affects both wild and domestic rabbits and hares. RHDV2 may kill up to 80% of infected rabbits.
WHERE DID RHDV(2) ORIGINATE?
RHDV first appeared in 1984 within a population of domestic rabbits that were imported from Germany to China. A variant, RHDV2, was first detected in France in 2010.
HOW IS RHDV2 DIFFERENT FROM RHDV?
RHDV2 is a new strain of the virus that rapidly spread through much of the world and can infect North American rabbit species (both domestic and wild) including young rabbits, unlike RHDV.
It is important to note that RHDV2 can infect and kill rabbits previously vaccinated for RHDV.
HOW WIDESPREAD IS RHDV2 IN THE U.S. AND CANADA?
The detection of RHDV2 associated with the current and ongoing RHD outbreak in the U.S. was during the spring of 2020. As of August 30th, 2022, RHDV2 has been confirmed in domestic and/or wild rabbits in 26 states and 2 Canadian provinces.
CAN RHDV2 INFECT MY PETS?
RHDV2 can infect domestic rabbits; the virus does not infect humans or domestic animals other than rabbits.
HOW DOES RHDV2 SPREAD?
RHDV2 can be spread through contact with infected animals, contact with infected rabbit meat, fur, blood, or urine, or contaminated materials (clothes, bedding, plants, hunting equipment, etc.).
The greatest risk factor in RHDV2 spreading to new areas is through people moving infected rabbits and contaminated materials.
The virus can also be moved by flies, rats, cats, dogs, etc. on their feet or body.
HOW LONG CAN RHDV2 LAST IN THE ENVIRONMENT (OUTSIDE OF AN INFECTED ANIMAL)?
The virus can remain viable for 22-35 days at 72F and can survive freeze-thaw cycles.
IS THERE A VACCINE AVAILABLE TO PROTECT MY RABBITS AGAINST RHDV2?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has authorized emergency use of a vaccine (Medgene Labs) that is produced in the United States.
HOW CAN I TELL IF MY RABBIT HAS RHDV2?
Visible signs are rare observed because the disease course is typically rapid and severe. Often rabbits are found dead If observed, infected rabbits may have a blood-stained nose or mouth. If you suspect that your rabbit is sick, call your veterinarian right away. If you suspect that a rabbit may be sick, keep them away from other rabbits and follow biosecurity measures to help control the spread of the virus.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I ENCOUNTER A DEAD RABBIT?
DO NOT handle the carcass; contact your local veterinarian or state wildlife official to learn if RHDV2 has been detected in your area.
Report dead wild rabbits that are found to state wildlife officials.