Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV2) – New Updates and Information for Pet Parents – 12/28/20

Written by Oxbow

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December 28, 2020🞄

We wanted to provide an update regarding the ongoing RHDV2 issues that continue to be a serious concern for both wild and domestic rabbit populations in the United States.

New Cases in California, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming

Since our last update, we have had some new reported cases in California, Colorado, a few in Utah,and, most recently, the first reported case in Wyoming.  Knowing that Colorado and California have been those simmering areas, we do now have a positive case in Kern County, California (Bakersfield), on the Northern end of where we’ve seen more of the cases. So that’s certainly something that we want to be aware of.

Decrease in Case Numbers – Factors to Consider

While we’ve seen a decrease in the overall number of cases being reported, there’s a couple of important factors that we want to keep in mind.  We know that this is the time of year where overall virus transmission seems to diminish. Unfortunately, there is the belief when you look at the research and what the virus has done in other countries that, as we move into the winter time, and especially as we move into spring, it is common for case spread to increase. Let’s hope that that’s not necessarily going to be the case.

The second component to consider is that, in many of the seven states where the virus is now considered to be endemic, routine testing of wild rabbits is not taking place. This means that, while there may be a disease out there, we’re not seeing as much testing being done. And, unfortunately, we know that that could potentially mean that there is more spread that’s just not being reported. That being said, any domesticated case that is reported with a veterinarian or an owner should be communicated to your state veterinarian, and then they will complete that necessarily testing.

New Travel Restrictions

We were aware of existing travel restrictions in California and other states, but we’re beginning to see some new travel restrictions, even in some states outside of where the virus is currently an issue.  States where we are seeing new travel restrictions include Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and Missouri.

If you do need to travel with your rabbit, make sure that you work with your veterinarian not only to understand the legal requirements of that travel (such as health certificates and associated other regulatory responsibilities), but make sure you’re aware of the potential risk of where you’re traveling to.

As you’ve heard me say many times, the safest thing you can do for both you and your rabbits is to stay home and be safe. This isn’t a time that we want to be out and about – not only for your rabbit, but for us as human beings in light of our ongoing issues with COVID.  But, if you do have to travel, take those extra precautions to work with your veteran, make sure you have the right documentation that’s associated with that travel.

Some Good News – Endangered Population Vaccinated!

I do want to end on a positive note. So much of this has been negative and talking about all the struggles that we’ve had with this virus, but there was a recent news article that came out that talked about almost 270 of the endangered California Central Valley Brush Rabbit population were actually trapped and vaccinated. This is a very unique population of a subspecies of the brush rabbit that, for a while, was actually believed to be extinct.  Thanks to a sustained and ongoing recovery effort, they’re now doing well in the wild, but obviously knowing the geography of where they live and where the virus at that was a potential huge risk.

It was very heartwarming and encouraging to see how multiple agencies came together, imported the vaccine, and vaccinated these rabbits, which will hopefully protect that very unique population. So, on that note, we want to wish everybody out there, happy holidays, and encourage you to continue to educate yourself. And, as we get more information, we’ll share that with all of you.