NEW YORK (WWTI) — A case of a fatal rabbit disease has been confirmed in New York State.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets confirmed a case of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2, or RHDV2, in a domestic rabbit in Montgomery County on December 15.

According to the Department, RHDV2 was first found in the United States in 2018. but it is a highly contagious and fatal disease that affects domestic and wild rabbits. This virus does not affect humans or other animals.

This is the second occurrence of RHDV2 in New York. The first cluster of cases was in New York City in March 2020. The virus was quickly identified, isolated and eradicated.

Symptoms of RHDV2 in rabbits may include fever, lethargy, hemorrhage, seizures and sudden death. Signs of the virus typically appear one to three days after being infected. RHDV2 can also survive in an environment for weeks or longer and can be spread through feed, bedding equipment and other contaminated materials.

The Department stated that although this case is an isolated incident and limited to one household, rabbit owners are encouraged to ensure proper health and sanitary measures to prevent the disease. This includes:

  • Not allowing pet or wild rabbits to have contact with your rabbits
  • Not allowing visitors in rabbitries, or not letting them handle pet rabbits without protective clothing
  • Always washing hands with warm soapy water before entering a rabbit area, after removing protective clothing and before leaving a rabbit area
  • To no introduce new rabbits from unknown or untrusted sources
  • Sanitize all equiptments and cages moved on or off premises before they are reutnred to a rabbitry
  • Establish a working relationship with a veterinarian.

Rabbit owners can also speak with their veterinarians about the potential use of a new vaccine for RHDV2, which was recently granted emergency use authorization by the USDA.

The Department of Agriculture and Markets stated that an investigation is ongoing to determine the source of RHDV2 in Montgomery County.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 can also be reported. Sick or dead domestic rabbits should be reported to the State Veterinarian’s office at 518-457-3502 or to the USDA at 866-536-7593.

Multiple wild rabbits found dead or wild rabbits with blood-stained noses should be reported to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Wildlife Health Unit at 518-478-2203.