Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease confirmed

A highly contagious and fatal disease of rabbits and hares has been detected for the first time in Colorado. Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Department of Agriculture report that Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus type 2 was recently confirmed in three wild cottontail rabbits approximately 10 miles southeast of Alamosa in Costilla County, Colorado. RHDV-2 does not affect humans or domestic species other than rabbits, but is highly contagious and lethal among rabbits.

Citizens should report any sick or dead wild rabbits, hares or pika to your local CPW office; avoid handling rabbits or rodents that have been found dead; and prevent pets or scavengers from feeding on found carcasses. Though RHDV-2 is not a risk to pets other than domestic rabbits, a number of other pathogens and parasites from carcasses can affect pets. CPW also urges citizen to not handle or consume rabbits or other game animals that appear to be sick. Instead, report these cases to the nearest CPW office. Meat from healthy rabbits harvested by hunters is safe to consume when cooked thoroughly.

Domestic rabbit owners should exercise extreme caution and biosecurity to avoid accidental exposure of domestic rabbits through contaminated feed, bedding, equipment, or clothing that may have come in contact from infected wild rabbits or birds that could transfer the virus from infected wild rabbits. Domestic rabbits should not be housed outdoors in areas where rabbit hemorrhagic disease has been detected in wild rabbits. Contact your veterinarian for more information about this disease in domestic rabbits.