WARNING: Fatal contagious rabbit disease in the Las Vegas Valley, rabbit owners must take precautions | KLAS


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – A deadly highly contagious rabbit disease has spread in the Las Vegas Valley and there is currently no vaccine available in the United States.

According to the Nevada SPCA, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus serotype 2 or RHDV2 affects domestic and wild rabbits. The disease does not affect humans, but they can transmit it indirectly to rabbits by wearing it on clothes or shoes. Dogs and other pets can also spread it.

There is at least one rabbit dead from this disease in the Las Vegas Valley, but pet rabbit owners should be careful because the disease spreads so quickly. RHDV2 is also present in neighboring states and affects thousands of wild rabbit populations

Signs of RHDV2 are almost nonexistent and can lead to sudden death from internal bleeding. Infected rabbits can also develop fever, become reluctant to eat, or show respiratory or nervous signs, according to Nevada SPCA.

The virus is spread by direct contact or exposure to the shedding or blood of an infected rabbit and can also survive and spread from carcasses, food, water and contaminated materials. In addition, the virus is very resistant to extreme temperatures and can live on surfaces for 200 days.

“We urge pet rabbit owners to be very vigilant now by taking precautions, including washing their hands thoroughly with warm soapy water before handling your pet rabbit, as well as disinfecting all equipment and cages with a solution of bleach and water. Rabbit owners should not introduce new rabbits from unknown or unreliable sources at this time, “said Lori Heeren, executive director of the Nevada SPCA. “Also, wash green vegetables thoroughly and only use a reliable source of hay and food.”

No vaccine is available in the United States, but the state’s Veterinary Council has determined this to be an emergency and has placed an order for the vaccine.

The Nevada SPCA is currently suspending all adoption of rabbits until further notice.

If you have any questions about this disease, please contact your veterinarian. It is a reportable disease and, if detected, should be reported immediately to the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Dr. Nate LaHue, DVM, MPVM should be contacted by email [email protected] or by phone at (775) 688-1813.

Nevada SPCA can be contacted at (702) 872-7722 or visit the website at nevadaspca.org. Hours of operation are Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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