Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Update

Dan Georgia, Livestock, Rabbits

Hemorrhagic Disease
Photo by Aswathy N on Unsplash

The Georgia Department of Agriculture’s (GDA) Animal Industry Division has confirmed Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) in domestic rabbits at a single Cobb County premise. The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of the virus and there are currently no other confirmed or suspect cases in Georgia.

RHDV2 is a highly contagious Calicivirus that affects domestic rabbits, as well as wild or feral rabbits and hares. The virus is shed by infected rabbits, and transmitted through direct contact, fomites (bedding, water, feed, hay, etc.) and mechanical vectors (i.e., insects). The virus is hardy in the environment, especially when protected by organic material and survives in extreme temperatures. Clinical signs for RHDV2 in rabbits range from sudden death to anorexia, lethargy, conjunctivitis, respiratory signs and bloodstained noses or mouths.

Good biosecurity practices are the best defense against RHDV2 infection and rabbit owners are strongly advised to take the following measures to protect rabbitries:

  • Keep domestic rabbits separate from other pets, livestock and wild animals.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before entering rabbit housing areas or interacting with domestic rabbits.
  • Use dedicated clothing and footwear when interacting with domestic rabbits.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment, materials and surfaces used for rabbit care.
  • Properly dispose of animal waste, bedding and supplies.
  • Quarantine newly acquired animals from other pets and livestock for at least 30 days.
  • Establish a working relationship with a veterinarian to review biosecurity practices and health concerns.

RHDV2 is a reportable disease in Georgia. Veterinarians should report sick or dead domestic rabbits to the State Veterinarian’s office at (404)-656-3667 or (404)-656-3671, or the office of the USDA Area Veterinarian in Charge (AVIC) at (770)-761-5420. Sick or dead wild rabbits should be reported to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at 1-(833)-557-3303 or (706)-557-3333.

Georgia requires an official CVI issued within the previous 30 days for domestic rabbits entering the state for sale, trade, adoption or exchange for a fee or other type of compensation.

For more information on national RHDV2 outbreak areas, please visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/maps/animal-health/rhd.

You can find resources on RHDV2 at: http://agr.georgia.gov/rabbit-hemorrhagic-disease-resources.aspx