Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2)

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 May 2021, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has confirmed new 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

• Lethargy

• High Fever

• Seizures

• Jaundice

• 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.

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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