POST Online Media Lite Edition


Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus outbreak in Western States

Christian Fernsby |
The State of Tennessee wants to make Tennesseans aware, that in several western states, there is currently an outbreak of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (RHDV2).


At present, RHDV2 has not been found in rabbits in Tennessee or any neighboring states.

The virus is highly contagious and lethal to wild and domestic rabbits and hares. In Tennessee, eastern cottontails, Appalachian cottontails, and swamp rabbits are susceptible to RHDV2.

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease is caused by one of several strains of calicivirus. The disease has been detected in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah.

This strain of the virus is considered a foreign animal disease and is reportable to state and federal authorities. RHDV2 only infects rabbit species and is not known to affect humans, livestock, or other pets.

The virus can be transmitted through direct contact with infected rabbits or carcasses, meat or their fur, feces, bodily fluids, contaminated bedding materials, or other materials that have been contaminated.

People can inadvertently spread the virus into new areas by moving infected live rabbits, carcasses or parts from infected animals, as well as on clothing and shoes. The virus can persist in the environment for an extended time, which makes it difficult to control the disease once it affects wild rabbit populations.

Infected rabbits may experience swelling, internal bleeding and liver damage. Disease onset is rapid. Although bleeding from the nose or mouth sometimes occurs, often the only outward sign is death of the rabbit.

People are asked to report rabbits that appear to be bleeding or sightings of multiple dead rabbits to a TWRA regional office. Do not handle dead rabbits. Although RHDV2 is not known to be infectious to humans, rabbits carry other diseases that can make people sick.

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