Instances of rabbit hemorrhagic illness detected in Florida


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A probably lethal and highly-contagious virus is impacting rabbits in a number of states together with Florida.

State agriculture officers launched an up to date assertion earlier this month warning pet house owners about rabbit hemorrhagic illness, kind 2 (RHDV2).

Two instances of the virus have been recognized in Florida since 2020 — a home rabbit in Lake County in December 2020 and the second in a home rabbit in St. Johns County in October 2021.

At the moment, there isn’t any proof that the virus has unfold to different home or wild rabbits from both an infection. RHDV-2, which doesn’t have a remedy, is ready to infect not solely pet rabbits but additionally hares and cottontails.

There have been no detections of the virus from exams carried out on wild rabbits in Florida.

State officers stated the rabbit in St. Johns County is below quarantine and has been cleaned and disinfected.

“Once we get a illness like that, that has not been beforehand within the nation, our populations are extremely vulnerable to it,” stated Dr. Susan Kelleher of Avian and Unique Animal Hospital. “This explicit virus is fairly hardy, and it is truly unfold throughout the USA from California all the best way to Florida in roughly two years.”

The investigation to find out the supply of the an infection is ongoing and being monitored by the state.

Florida officers stated different affected states presently embody Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming. Cuba can also be affected.


Dr. Susan Kelleher says rabbit hemorrhagic illness kills about 80 p.c of the bunnies that it infects.

In accordance with the USA Division of Agriculture, RHDV2 doesn’t impression human well being.

Rabbit house owners are urged to take “prudent biosecurity measures,” together with not buying hay or different commodities originating in rabbit hemorrhagic disease-affected states.

The state provided the following tips for rabbit house owners to assist stop the unfold of the virus:

  • Hold a closed rabbitry
  • Exclude wild and feral rabbits from the rabbitry
  • Wash your palms between dealing with rabbits in numerous pens
  • Management flies and biting bugs
  • Clear and disinfect gear, instruments, footwear, feed and water containers and cages. Really useful disinfectants embody these within the phenol class or 10 p.c bleach. Clear totally with cleaning soap and water first and apply disinfectant for beneficial contact time. Rinse properly and permit to dry earlier than permitting animal contact
  • Home rabbits indoors if attainable.
  • Don’t share gear with others who elevate rabbits.
  • Contact your veterinarian if sick or useless rabbits are noticed and submit carcasses for examination and immediate sampling
  • Don’t transport rabbits into or out of RHDV quarantine areas
  • Separate new rabbits or these getting back from exhibits for one month

The primary signal {that a} rabbit is contaminated with RHDV2 is commonly sudden and surprising dying in a beforehand wholesome animal. These that don’t die instantly could display poor urge for food, despair, inactivity and listlessness. They may have a fever and bloody nasal discharge could also be famous. Later indicators of the virus embody organ failure, jaundice, respiratory misery, diarrhea, weight reduction, bloating and dying.

“Our concern is it is a very hardy virus. We are able to deliver it in on our garments, chance of bringing it in on hay, and it is lethal,” Kelleher stated. “[There is a] higher than 80 p.c mortality charge with this, and the rabbits die very acutely of extreme fever after which blood coming from the nostril and mouth.”

Regardless of most rabbits dying from the virus in the event that they contract it, Kelleher desires pet house owners to know that there’s a vaccine obtainable.

She is holding a vaccination occasion for rabbit house owners on Tuesday at her workplace in Deerfield Seaside.

Kelleher stated each rabbit that’s vaccinated in opposition to the virus may even have to have a microchip, which can also be being provided.

The price of the vaccine is $60, and the microchip is $36.

“It is crucial that we defend the rabbit inhabitants,” Kelleher stated.

Her subsequent RHDV2 vaccination occasion is scheduled for Feb. 22 at 2 p.m.

Contact Kelleher’s workplace at 954-968-7171 for extra particulars.


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