What is RHDV2
Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) is a highly contagious virus that infects wild and domestic rabbits and hares. The virus damages the liver leading to internal bleeding. The disease caused by the virus, simply called rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD), may kill up to 80% of infected animals. Due to the confirmed number of species already infected by the disease, it should be assumed that all rabbit and hare species in the United States are susceptible to RHDV2. Importantly, RHDV2 does not impact human health.
HOW IT SPREADS
The virus is extremely hardy and can survive outside of an animal host on contaminated materials. Research has shown that the virus can survive in the environment for up to 15 weeks at room temperature and can also survive freezing temperatures.
The virus spreads through direct contact between rabbits, or indirectly through contact with meat, fur, blood, urine, feces, and materials that the infected rabbit touched (e.g., plants, bedding, cages, people’s clothes and shoes, etc.).
The virus can last for a long time on materials contaminated through contact with the urine, feces, saliva, or tissue from an infected rabbit. Thus, the greatest risk of RHDV2 spreading to new areas is from people moving infected rabbits and contaminated materials. Guidelines for how to prevent the spread of RHDV2 are in place for people who interact with rabbits or rabbit-related supplies.