Highly Infectious Rabbit Illness Results in Abrupt Death Discovered for the First Time in Texas

The Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus 2 has been discovered in three animals in Texas for the first time this winter.

Details Of Report

Two desert cottontail rabbits and one black-tailed jackrabbit in El Paso County tested positive for the illness, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Both domestic and wild rabbits are extremely infectious to Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus 2, or RHDV2.

In less severe cases, rabbits may exhibit dullness, lack of appetite, watery or congested eyes, and bleeding from the nose and eyes in addition to rapid death.

RHD, which contains two strains, has been identified in various West Texas counties during the past few years and has been reported throughout North America.

Pets shouldn’t consume the corpses of sick animals since RHD has not been proven to damage people, pets, or livestock.

According to a TPWD press release, this extremely infectious disease transmits amongst rabbits by contact with diseased corpses, flesh, or fur, tainted food or water, or items coming into touch with them. RHDV2 can survive for a very long period in the environment. These factors make disease control efforts extremely challenging once it occurs in wild rabbit populations.”

Contact a local TPWD biologist or a veterinarian if you think a sick or dead rabbit has the illness. Report any unusual mass illness or fatality incidents involving rabbits to the Texas Animal Health Commission.

Other Reports

The first instance of a fatal and highly infectious virus affecting rabbits and hares has been found in Ontario.

In the beginning of June, Lambton County in southwest Ontario received two reports of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (RHDV-2). Alberta, British Columbia: prior recordings It is unknown whether rabbit hemorrhagic illness affects people or other animals in Ontario and Quebec.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), this is the first time RHDV-2 has been identified in Ontario. “At this point, the source of the illness remains unknown.”

The same home, which had the infected pet rabbits, was quarantined as a result of the diagnosis.

The CFIA spokeswoman stated, “An investigation has been finished, and no high risk contacts have been discovered that may result in the transmission of the illness from these premises.” The CFIA is working with the province and is still keeping an eye on the situation.

Rabbit hemorrhagic illness, according to the CFIA, “is a rapid, extremely infectious and deadly viral disease” that is transferred by coming into touch with contaminated items, excrement, and body fluids. Fever, anorexia, blood spots in the eyes, frothy, bloody discharge from the nose, and neurological symptoms such difficulty walking and paralysis are some of the symptoms.

Other Countries

Vaccines for rabbit hemorrhagic illness are offered in Europe and the United States but are not licensed for sale in Canada. Through the CFIA, veterinarians in Canada can order vaccinations. Vaccines were imported from France in 2018 due to an epidemic in British Columbia.

Although it is less popular in nations like China, Italy, Spain, and France, rabbit meat consumption has been progressively falling in Canada. In 2021, there were over 1,500 rabbit farms in Canada, down from around 6,400 in 1996; the majority are in Ontario, according to Statistics Canada.

All around Europe, as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Cuba, and certain regions of Africa and Asia, are cases of rabbit hemorrhagic illness. In the U.S. and Canada, outbreaks have sometimes happened, most recently in 2011, 2016, and 2018.