Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus-2
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease
Virus-2 (RHDV2), a highly contagious and lethal disease of rabbits, has now
been confirmed in a desert cottontail in Boulder City, Nevada. It has also been
found in domestic and wild rabbits in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas,
Utah, and California.
RHDV2 is a foreign animal disease
and this represents the first outbreak among wild, North American rabbits.
Reports from Arizona and New Mexico have shown large numbers of dead
cottontails and black- tailed jackrabbits on the landscape. It is possible that
mortality will exceed 80% among affected populations. While we do not know the
susceptibility of other northern American lagomorphs at this point, we are
assuming that all North American rabbits and hares, as well as pikas, are susceptible.
This disease is also a significant concern for animals that rely on lagomorphs
as their prey base.
RHDV2 is caused by a calicivirus
and is unrelated to COVID-19. While humans and other animals are not
susceptible, they can spread the disease. The virus is incredibly hardy,
surviving over 100 days in the environment under dry conditions. The virus can be
spread through contact with infected animals, their meat/fur, bedding material,
urine and feces, housing, equipment, clothing, boots, truck tires, and the
like. Scavengers, predators, and insects may also spread the disease.
We want to act quickly to limit
the spread of RHDV2 in Nevada. Below you will find guidance on protecting Nevada’s wildlife.
General guidance for field work and recreation:
We want everyone to be vigilant
for any possible cases of RHDV2 in wild rabbits. Animals often die quickly and often
have no obvious outward signs. They are often in good body condition. Blood
around the nose may be seen.
report any mortalities of 3 or more cottontails or jackrabbits, any mortalities
of pygmy rabbits and pikas, and any lagomorph mortalities where signs include
blood coming from nose or mouth, unless the cause is obvious (i.e.
roadkill).Report mortalities to the
NDOW veterinarian (Dr. Nate LaHue) at email@example.com or the
Reno office at: 775-688-1500.
you find a dead or dying rabbit, consider scanning the area for more mortalities.
- Do not handle sick or dead wild rabbitsunless you have prior approvalfrom NDOW for carcass collection. While RHDV2 does
not affect people, other diseases that affect rabbits, such as plague and
tularemia, can be deadly to people.
- Do not let pets come into contact with dead rabbits
the virus is very hardy, every effort should be made to prevent transmission of the disease through field work.
equipment used in the field in states or Nevada counties with current RHDV2
cases should be used elsewhere Nevada without disinfection with 10% bleach, 1%
- Environ, or 1%
Sodium hydroxide. Anything disinfected should sit for at least 10 minutes
before rinsing. Quaternary ammonium compounds are not effective against RHDV2.
equipment, clothing, and boots should be also be cleaned and disinfected
between sites in Nevada as well. Pay special attention to potential sources of
exposure, such as raptor nests and rabbit burrows. If you discover mortalities
and are driving off paved roads, wash your vehicle and disinfect, especially tires.
carcasses can be a source of infection, burying or incineration of carcasses
may be considered when not all
carcasses are being sent for testing. This will be done at the discretion of
the wildlife health team. Do not dispose of any suspect carcass in the regular trash.
trapping, and movement of lagomorphs:
The most high-risk activity is
the movement of lagomorphs or handling of lagomorphs at multiple sites. RHDV2
can be spread by inhalation, contact with equipment, insects, urine and feces,
cease all movement of lagomorphs or carcasses other than for diagnostic testing. Extenuating circumstances
should be discussed with the NDOW veterinarian, Dr. Nate LaHue (firstname.lastname@example.org).
(live or dead) should not be used as bait.
- When trappingor handling lagomorphs all equipment shouldbe disinfected between animals. Disposable gloves should
be worn and changed between animals.
can be achieved using disinfectants listed above. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before rinsing.
- In addition,clothing and boots should be disinfected betweensites. The best way to achieve this is to change clothing and
to disinfect boots with 10% bleach. Clothing should be washed with hot water
- Equipment that cannot be disinfected shouldnot be used or new ones shouldbe used for each site.
- This does not changePPE use for pikas to protect workersfrom plague. New PPE should be used at each site.
you come across dead rabbits while trapping, do not continue with the trapping effort and contact NDOW.
Rehabilitation of lagomorphs:
Rehabilitation of lagomorphs has
the potential to spread RHDV2 quickly around the state. Please follow the
guidance to prevent rehabilitation from being a source of RHDV2.
not accept any rabbits from RHDV2 positive counties (currently Clark County).
- Separate injuredand ill rabbits as well as rabbitsfrom different parts of the state.
Practice good biosecurity between sets of rabbits
mortalities as well as any sick rabbits with clinical signs consistent with RHDV2 (poor appetite, fever, inactivity,
or bloody nose) to the NDOW veterinarian (email@example.com). Do not dispose of
mortalities unless from trauma prior to speaking with the NDOW veterinarian.
These mortalities should be disposed of by burying or incineration.
and disinfect all surfaces and equipment with 1:10 household bleach with a
contact time of at least 10 minutes. Use disposable gowns and gloves when handling rabbits
- Control for pests than can spreadthe disease such as biting flies and other insects. Protect food from flies, birds,
ill rabbits for at least 30 days prior to release. Speak with the NDOW
veterinarian prior to releasing rabbits. The general guidance will be to only
release rabbits in the area they
with pet rabbits at home should avoid working with wild rabbits.
For those that own pet rabbits:
Special care must be taken if you work with wild rabbits and have pet
rabbits at home.
use any equipment, clothing, or boots for field work that you use with your pet rabbit
recommend that you remove any work clothing and shower after handling wild lagomorphs and before coming in
contact with your pet rabbit.
not wear anything into the field that comes into contact with your pet rabbit
or surfaces it comes in contact with. It may be preferable to change into work
clothes at the office before
heading into the field.
- In general,it is good practice to prevent your pet rabbitfrom coming into contact with wild rabbits.
- If you have questionsor concerns about your domesticrabbits, please contactyour veterinarian.
for Hunters and Falconers
disposable gloves when field dressing rabbits and hares and bury any remains to prevent scavenging.
not allow dogs or other pets to come into contact with rabbits.
clothing by washing in hot water, detergent, and bleach and clean field gear and boots with 10% bleach prior to
not use any equipment that was used in states or Nevada counties with cases of
RHDV2 unless the equipment has been thoroughly disinfected (10% bleach for at least
not move rabbit carcasses unless moving meat for consumption by yourself or others.
not move carcasses to feed to falcons and do not bring in carcasses from out of
state. After eating an infected rabbit, a falcon may excrete the virus in their
feces, and potentially move it to
- Raptors may be able to move RHDV2. Try to avoid contact
between rabbit carcasses and your
birds. If you have flown your bird in an area with RHDV2 wait at least a
week before hunting with it in another area to limit the chance of virus being
spread in feces.
To report dead or sick rabbits:
Domestics: Rabbit owners with questions
about RHDV2 should contact their veterinarian.
Wildlife: Dead or sick wild rabbits,
hares, and pikas should be reported to by calling the Reno office at
775-688-1500 or emailing Dr. Nate LaHue at firstname.lastname@example.org.