Wednesday, July 8, 2020

2020 Checklist: Highly Contagious Deadly Rabbit Disease Found in the U.S.

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It’s now been recently discovered that a new and highly infectious disease for rabbits is in California. A veterinary laboratory confirmed the presence of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus type 2 in a wild black-tailed jackrabbit. The state Fish and Wildlife Department said this is the first time that California has seen anything like this.

The rabbit was found dead among ten other rabbits near a home in Palm Springs. Fortunately the disease does not affect humans. Unfortunately however it does affect wild rabbits and pets. And the signs that a rabbit has it are almost non existent until death. They may suffer fever, swelling, internal bleeding and liver failure of which the only thing we may notice would be swelling and if you have a pet you handle often, fever.

This could devastate our rabbit population and is something that they are trying to get under control quickly. It started in New Mexico in March and has since spread to Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, California and Mexico. New Mexico State Veterinarian Ralph Zimmerman is concerned that it could have come from illegal transport of the animals.

“We hear rumors of underground rabbit transport, and there are folks that do import rabbits from Europe, So our concern is that somebody brought them in, they were carrying the virus during transport. If one of them died, they pitched it out and boom, we infect the wild rabbits and away we go.”

Dr. Zimmerman via the New York Times

They are warning hunters to be careful handling carcasses of rabbits and to report any sightings of deceased rabbits to your local wildlife resource. What’s more is that the animals that prey on these rabbits may also be effected by the disease should they feed on them. It can be transmitted from humans to rabbits if you handle one and then go home to your pet and the disease is said to be very hardy. So it’s best to stay away if you can.

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