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NDOW and NDA confirm second case of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 in Nevada

Christian Fernsby |
Veterinarians with the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA), in conjunction with the USDA, have confirmed the first case of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) in Nevada’s wild rabbit population.


RHDV2 has been confirmed in both domestic and wild rabbit populations of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Utah has confirmed that a domestic rabbit was recently diagnosed with RHDV2 in that state.

“This disease is highly infectious and highly fatal to rabbits. In this case a desert cottontail rabbit,” said Dr. Nate LaHue, state wildlife veterinarian for NDOW. “According to reports from Arizona and New Mexico, the disease has left large numbers of dead cottontails and black-tailed jackrabbits on the landscape.”

RHDV2 can survive up to 100 days and can be spread through contact with infected rabbits, their meat or fur and other materials such as a handler’s clothing or shoes.

While early detection is difficult, some infected rabbits may develop a fever, loss of appetite, show respiratory issues or exhibit blood around the nose. Owners with rabbits exhibiting these signs should contact their local veterinarian immediately.

Anyone who sees two or more cottontails or jack rabbits, or any pygmy rabbits and pikas, that are sick or dead, or has blood coming from their nose or mouth, is encouraged to call NDOW dispatch at 775-688-1500.

“While it is not harmful to humans, it is imperative that owners follow strict biosecurity measures to prevent their pet rabbits from being exposed” said Nevada State Veterinarian Dr. Amy Mitchell.

To help curb the spread of RHDV2, individuals should refrain from touching any dead wild rabbits they may find. LaHue recommends that falconers and hunters should clean all gear and equipment that comes into contact with rabbits with a diluted bleach solution before hunting in a new area to avoid spreading the disease.

The ratio of bleach to water should be 1-to-10. Hunted rabbits should be cleaned in the area where they were harvested and only their meat transported home. Falconers should not use rabbits from affected areas as food for their birds.

People who work with wild or domestic rabbits should take the following precautions:

- Always wash hands with warm, soapy water before entering your rabbit area, before leaving the rabbit area and after removing protective clothing.

- Never use any clothing, shoes or equipment that have been used in other environments when working around pet rabbits.

- Change clothing and shower after handling wild rabbits and before coming in contact with your pet rabbit.

- Prevent pet rabbits from coming in contact with wild rabbits or domestic rabbits from outside of your rabbitry.

- Sanitize all equipment and cages moved on or off premises before they are returned to the rabbitry.

- Use separate equipment for newly acquired or sick rabbits to avoid spreading disease.

- Do not allow visitors in rabbitries or let them handle pet rabbits without protective clothing (including coveralls, shoe covers, hair covering and gloves).

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