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Deadly rabbit disease on Orcas Island, Wash. now confirmed in feral

Christian Fernsby |
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has confirmed rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) in three feral domestic rabbits found dead on Orcas Island.

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The findings are part of the ongoing investigation into a case of RHDV2 confirmed on the island last week in pet rabbit that died suddenly.

RHD is a viral disease that causes sudden death in rabbits and can be spread through contact with infected rabbits, their meat or their fur, or materials coming in contact with them.

It poses no human health risk.

Now that the disease has been confirmed in the feral population on Orcas Island, WSDA is no longer asking the public to contact our office for testing of the feral or wild rabbits there.

WSDA would still like reports of rabbit mortality on any other island or the mainland to track the virus presence and movement.

Domestic rabbit owners who suspect their rabbits have died from RHDV2 are still urged to contact their veterinarian and the Washington State Veterinarian's Office.

The Orcas Island outbreak response began on July 9, when the state vet's office received a report of a dead domestic pet rabbit from a veterinarian clinic on Orcas Island.

The veterinarian and the owner suspected possible RHD and contacted the State Veterinarian’s Office.

The remains of the dead rabbit were sent to state and federal animal disease labs for testing.

On July 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the disease.

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