Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is an extremely contagious and fatal viral disease affecting all lagomorph species, including both wild rabbits and domestics. RHDV2 is the currently active variation and has largely replaced the original from which it mutated. It has killed in countries worldwide and been reported on every continent except Antarctica.
The first symptom is often death, with the rabbit having bled from all orifices; hence its nickname of “rabbit Ebola”. All unexplained sudden deaths need to be regarded as suspicious and reported to your veterinarian as a possible case of RHDV2!
Although there’s about a 90% fatality rate, asymptomatic survivors can transmit it to other rabbits for as long as two months. Even without a host animal, RHDV2 can survive for almost four months on hard surfaces such as countertops and the soles of shoes, and soft surfaces such as clothing and furniture. Like a horror movie monster, it can’t be killed by even repeated freezing and thawing, and survives temperatures of well over 120° Fahrenheit. There is no treatment, no cure, and currently no vaccine available in the United States.
So far, we’ve escaped but it’s just a matter of time before RHDV2 moves into the region we serve. We monitor the situation daily and will keep you informed of developments and what you can do to help protect your rabbits.