Deadly rabbit disease found in Montgomery County

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has confirmed a case of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) in a domestic rabbit in Montgomery County. RHDV2 is a highly contagious and fatal disease of domestic and wild rabbits.

Signs of RHDV2 in rabbits may include fever, lethargy, hemorrhage, seizures, and sudden death. Rabbits typically show signs one to three days after being infected. The virus can survive in the environment for weeks or longer and it can be spread through feed, bedding, equipment, and other contaminated materials such as shoes and clothing. 

RHDV2 does not affect humans or other animals. The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of the virus. Although this case is limited to one household, rabbit owners are being encouraged to ensure proper health and sanitary measures to prevent the disease.

Recommendations for rabbit owners:

  • Do not allow other pet or wild rabbits to have contact with your rabbits or enter your home.
  • Do not allow visitors to enter rabbit areas or handle pet rabbits without protective clothing (including coveralls, shoe covers, hair covering, and gloves).
  • Always wash hands before entering your rabbit area, after removing protective clothing and before leaving the rabbit area.
  • Do not introduce new rabbits from unknown or untrusted sources.
  • Keep new rabbits separated from your existing rabbits for at least 30 days. Use separate equipment for new or sick rabbits to avoid spreading disease.
  • Sanitize all equipment and cages moved on or off premises before they are returned.
  • Establish a working relationship with a veterinarian to review biosecurity practices.

The disease was first found in the United States in 2018. This is the second occurrence of RHDV2 in New York, with the first cluster of cases being found in New York City in March 2020. The Department of Agriculture and Markets said the virus was quickly identified, isolated and eliminated.

More information on biosecurity and measures to prevent the spread of the virus can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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