Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is a highly contagious and deadly disease caused by a calicivirus that affects both wild and domestic rabbits. It is not contagious to people or other animals. For the first time, the virus is causing deaths in rabbits and hares native to North America and is spreading rapidly.
Even if your rabbit is kept inside, they are still at risk of becoming infected with RHDV. While RHDV only affects rabbits, the disease can be transmitted to them by people or animals through contact with objects, animals, insects, or predator feces contaminated by the virus.
A sudden rabbit death is suspicious and should be reported to your veterinarian as a possible case of RHDV. Report sightings of sick or dead rabbits to your state wildlife officials; do not touch them.
An annual vaccine is required for continued protection against RHDV. Vaccination is expected to be effective for most rabbits — it may not prevent the disease in 100% of cases, but if vaccinated, it helps rabbits survive if they have been exposed to RHDV. Bio-security measures should still be taken to protect vaccinated rabbits.
Currently, a vaccine is not widely available in North America. In outbreak areas, special permission is being given by state and federal agencies to veterinarians to import European vaccines. SDHRS is working with several veterinarian clinics in San Diego County to obtain the vaccine. Please contact your veterinarian to inquire about getting your rabbit vaccinated.
Please visit rabbit.org/rhdv or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to keep update with information about the spread of RHDV and how you can protect your rabbit.