Highly Contagious and Deadly Virus Decimates Rabbits Across the U.S.

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A highly contagious and deadly virus is sweeping across the US and threatening rabbits.

Infected rabbits may exhibit no symptoms before suddenly dying, or they may suffer fever, swelling, internal bleeding and liver failure.

new Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus type 2 decimate rabbits across America, RHD, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease, rhd
A new type of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus type 2 decimate rabbits across America. Picture by PLE Disease Ecology

According to officials, the Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus type 2 is lethal to wild and domestic rabbits, but does not affect humans or domestic animals other than rabbits.

RHDV2 is not connected to coronavirus and it only spreads among rabbits, hares and pikas – the rabbit’s small mountain-dwelling cousin.

The disease has been found in rabbits in western states but has spread quickly and if it goes unchecked, it could decimate wild rabbit populations.​

Unfortunately, we may also see impacts to species that depend on rabbits for food, as rabbits are a common prey species for many predators,” said Deana Clifford, a CDFW senior wildlife veterinarian.

USFW asked those who came across sightings of sick or dead rabbits to report the issue but be careful to not handle carcasses to minimise spread of the virus, which is described as very hardy. Hunters are urged to take precautions as well. More viral news on Strange Sounds and Steve Quayle. [Independent]

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