Pet Rabbits and a Deadly Virus


Lost in the news of the last few months is that a deadly virus that just attacks rabbits has secretly found its way into the US.  Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (RHDV-2) has been found in pet and wild rabbits in the US southwest, northwest, and NYC.  Since the discovery of this virus decades ago, US veterinary health officials have been extremely vigilant and have been able to keep this virus from entering the US.  Now it is here and the fear is we cannot control its spread.

Dr. Karen Rosenthal, pictured here with a chaco peccary in Paraguay.

My research on the wild rabbits of Tasmania included seeing the devastating effect that RHDV can have on rabbit populations.  Rabbits, seemingly dying in their tracks, lay dead on open ground with blood coming from their mouth and nose.  How can we prevent this from happening in the US?  We need to maintain our vigilance to prevent more cases from entering the US. Do not expose your rabbit to wild rabbits or other rabbits that are sick.  Effective vaccines are available in the UK and Europe but not yet in the US except by special order by a rabbit veterinarian via assistance of the USDA.

— Dr. Karen Rosenthal, Director of Veterinary Clinical Skills at the College of Veterinary Medicine

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