In recent months, outbreaks of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease, a highly contagious viral infection affecting wild and domestic rabbits, has been reported in the United States. To date, the majority of cases have been clustered in the Southwest. These devastating outbreaks are caused by Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus 2 (RHDv2), a virus that belongs to the Caliciviridae family, which also includes Feline calicivirus and Human norovirus. It is not known to infect other animals and is not a risk to human health.
Breaking the Cycle of Infection
RHDv2 can be transmitted from one rabbit to another in a variety of ways, including:
- Through direct contact between an infected and uninfected rabbit, which can include contact with contaminated blood or bodily fluids;
- Through vectors, including insects, but can also include other animals such as pets;
- Through drinking contaminated food or water;
- Through contaminated objects, also known as fomites.
Preventing the spread of infection comes down to stopping these methods of transmission in their tracks, such as: avoiding contact with infected rabbits. A vaccine for RHDv2 does exist, though may not be readily accessible in all areas.
The Role of Cleaning and Disinfection
RHDv2 is a small non-enveloped virus, which are fairly resistant to disinfectants. Due to the significance of this issue, the EPA enacted their Emerging Viral Pathogens policy against this virus. According to this policy, disinfectants with claims against two small non-enveloped viruses, each from a different family, can be expected to kill RHDv2 as well.
Any equipment or cages should be cleaned and disinfected before being introduced into rabbit areas, in addition to regular cleaning and disinfection of your facility. In addition to being effective against viruses, Rescue is non-toxic and non-irritating to people and animals when used as directed. Rescue provides you with confidence that the health of your rabbits are protected, without compromising the safety of your team or any other animals in your care.
To learn more about this ongoing situation, please refer to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s website.
For more information on Rescue, click here.