Rabbit Virus in Southern California
From HRS: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is a highly contagious and deadly disease caused by a calicivirus that affects both wild and domestic rabbits. It is not contagious to people or other animals. For the first time, the virus is causing deaths in rabbits and hares native to North America and is spreading rapidly.
UPDATE : In April 12, 2022, RHDV2 has been detected in domestic and/or wild rabbits in twelve California counties - considered endemic in those counties. CDFA taking limited regulatory action. RHDV2 was detected this week in domestic rabbits in San Luis Obispo County. This is the first detection in California since December 2021, when cases were detected in wild jackrabbits in San Benito County. Other recent wild rabbit cases have been detected in Nevada and Oregon.
California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has confirmed cases of RHDV in rabbits in Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura County. In addition to detection of RHDV2 in wild cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits, RHDV2 has been confirmed in domestic rabbits on 50 premises, including a detection in a feral domestic rabbit.
Even if your rabbit is kept inside, they are still at risk of becoming infected with RHDV. While RHDV only affects rabbits, the disease can be transmitted to them by people or animals through contact with objects, animals, insects, or predator feces contaminated by the virus.
Symptoms may include:
• Loss of appetite
• High Fever
• Bleeding from nose, mouth, or rectum
• Difficulty breathing
• Sudden death
CDFA recommends that rabbit owners prevent contact with wild rabbits and jackrabbits, and if possible, keep domestic rabbits indoors in areas with known disease. Owners are also asked to vaccinate their pet rabbits and practice biosecurity to prevent accidentally spreading the RHDV2 virus to their rabbits.
Other ways to protect your rabbits:
• Vaccinate your rabbit against RHDV2 on a yearly basis
• Keep your rabbit indoors, this means no outdoor playtime or living outdoors.
• Do not let your rabbit come into physical contact with other rabbits from outside your home.
• Wash your hands before and after handling your rabbit.
• Change your clothes if you have come in contact with other rabbits.
• Disinfect shoes and other objects that may be contaminated.
• Quarantine any new rabbit in the home for at least 18 days.
• Use rabbit safe monthly flea treatments (as prescribed by your veterinarian only) for rabbits, cats and dogs.
• Contact your veterinarian if your rabbit becomes sick.
Any sudden rabbit death is suspicious and should be reported to a veterinarian immediately. The public is urged to call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at (916) 358-2790 if dead wild rabbits are sighted, and to avoid contact or file a report through the CDFW website.
Movement Restrictions for Rabbits and Hares Entering California
Due to the ongoing outbreak of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) in the U.S., California has implemented a statewide quarantine with movement restrictions for rabbits and hares entering California.
No rabbits, hares, or their products (meat, pelts, hides, carcasses, etc.) and equipment or other items or associated materials may enter California from states or countries where Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) has been diagnosed in the prior 12 months unless they meet the following requirements.
- • All live rabbits and hares require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, and must be inspected by an accredited veterinarian within 72 hours prior to shipping to California. The CVI must include a statement by an accredited veterinarian certifying that:
- -- All rabbits and hares in the shipment have been examined for and found free of communicable diseases, and
- -- All rabbits and hares have originated from a single premises that has no signs of a communicable disease, and
- -- There have been no movements of rabbits and hares onto the premises over the prior 30-days, and
- -- The animals have had no contact with wild rabbits or hares in the past 30 days.
- • No rabbits and hares or rabbit and hare products (meat, pelts, hides, carcasses, etc.) and equipment or other items or associated materials may enter California from a premises known to be affected with RHD.
Medgene Labs (Brookings, SD) received Emergency Use authorization from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) for their experimental vaccine for prevention of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus serotype 2 (RHDV2). The new vaccine is a killed recombinant vaccine which is authorized as a two-dose series, with the second dose given 21 days after the first. Medgene Labs has distributed their vaccine to California licensed veterinarians since October 2021. Rabbit owners should contact their private veterinarian if they are interested in vaccination for RHD. Veterinarians may contact CDFA at AHBFeedback@cdfa.ca.gov for more information about obtaining RHD vaccine.
For more information about RHDV2, please visit https://rabbit.org/rhdv/.
Below are the clinics that we know of in San Diego who have the RHDV2 vaccine:
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