Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 2

Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas have recently reported cases of RHDV2 in domestic rabbits, wild cottontails and jackrabbits. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 2 is a highly contagious and fatal disease of domestic rabbits and wild rabbits of the genus Oryctolagus. This disease is considered a foreign animal disease (FAD) and is of high concern at the state and federal levels. The recent involvement of wild cottontails and hares is of particular concern.

Clinical Signs

Many times, the only signs of the disease are sudden death and possibly blood stained noses caused by internal bleeding. Infected rabbits may also develop a fever, be hesitant to eat, or show respiratory or nervous signs.

Due to the proximity and progression of RHDV2 cases in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Texas, veterinarians and rabbit owners should be aware of the disease risks at this time because of the highly contagious nature of this disease. At this time RHDV2 has not yet been reported in domestic or wild rabbits in Kansas.

Also please be aware that the virus causing rabbit hemorrhagic disease (a calicivirus) is NOT in any way related to the circulating novel coronavirus that primarily affects people.

A vaccine for RHDV2 is not currently available in Kansas. Rabbit owners should practice good biosecurity measures to protect their animals from this disease, such as washing your hands before and after working with rabbits and not sharing equipment with other owners. Rabbit owners should also avoid contact with wild or feral rabbits.

Reporting of Rabbit Illnesses or Death

  • Owners:  Rabbit owners who have questions about the disease should contact their veterinarian. 
  • Veterinarians: Veterinarians must report suspected RHDV cases in domestic rabbits to the Division of Animal Health. Disease investigations will be completed by a Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostician
  • Wildlife:  To report suspect cases (sick or dead wild rabbits, hares or pika), contact the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism at 620-342-0658, Ext. 209.

Resources