Deadly, highly contagious rabbit virus discovered in Minnesota
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 was detected for the first time in this state and caused 2 rabbits to suddenly die.
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health recently announced that the deadly, highly contagious rabbit disease—Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2)—was detected this month for the first time in the state causing 2 Ramsey County rabbits to die.1 Samples collected from the bodies and sent to the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories validated they had RHDV2.
The RHDV2 virus affects both domestic and wild rabbits and poses no threat to humans or any other known species.1 According to Greg Suskovic, DVM, who leads the state Board of Animal Health’s Foreign Animal Disease Investigation unit, the cause of these cases is currently under investigation.
“Rabbit owners should contact their veterinarian if their pet dies unexpectedly or exhibits any of the signs consistent with RHDV2,” Suskovic disclosed. “Veterinarians should report suspected cases to the Board.”
Hallmark signs of rabbits infected with the virus include lethargy or reluctance to move, and they usually die between a day and a week after contracting it.1 Following their death, the bodies may have blood coming from the nostrils and mouth.
RHDV2 spreads through direct contact with infected rabbits or contact with contaminated blood, urine, or feces. It can survive on clothing, footwear, surfaces, as well as inside cages, surviving in feed, water, and bedding.1
The virus is resistant to extreme temperatures and can live up to 15 weeks in dry conditions.1 Experts suggest utilizing a high pH solution to inactivate RHDV2 when disinfecting surfaces.
There is currently no RHDV2 vaccine approved for use in Minnesota, though there are vaccines for the disease in Europe. Officials announced a South Dakota company is working on developing a recombinant technology vaccine, similar to those created by Pfizer and Moderna to prevent COVID-19.
The Board of Animal Health plans to discuss approval of the South Dakota vaccine at its December meeting.
To learn more about the RHDV2 cases in Minnesota, go here.
- Deadly, highly-contagious rabbit disease detected in Minnesota. CBS Minnesota. Published September 28, 2021. Updated September 29, 2021. Accessed September 30, 2021. https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2021/09/29/deadly-highly-contagious-rabbit-disease-detected-in-minnesota/