Rabbit hemorrhagic disease is a fatal disease in rabbits and is considered a foreign animal disease in the United States. This disease is caused by several virus strains. Animal health officials detected one of these strains, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 2 (RHDV2), in North America in the past few years. RHDV2 does not impact human health.
RHDV2 can be spread through direct contact or exposure to an infected rabbit's excretions or blood. The virus can also survive and spread from carcasses, food, water, and any contaminated materials. People can spread the virus indirectly by carrying it on their clothing and shoes.
A vaccine for RHDV2 is now available for use in Wisconsin. Rabbit owners interested in vaccinating their rabbits should contact their veterinarians for more information on the vaccine. Veterinarians may order the vaccine by contacting Medgene Labs at (605) 697-2600. For more information, visit https://medgenelabs.com/rhdv2-vaccine/.
Although it is not required, identifying rabbits, such as with tattoos or microchips, is highly recommended to aid in demonstrating vaccination status. If using microchips, ensure there will be no interference with their use in meat rabbits. If using tattoos in registered or show rabbits, ensure the rabbits will meet registration or show requirements.
Even with the use of vaccine, it is still recommended that owners protect rabbits by practicing good biosecurity. Biosecurity means taking simple steps every day to keep germs and viruses away from animals. These actions will significantly reduce the chance of RHDV2 or other contagious diseases affecting your rabbits.