Rabbit disease confirmed in Tennessee

NASHVILLE – The State Veterinarian confirmed today that Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) was detected in two domesticated rabbits in one East Tennessee location. There are no other rabbits on the premises.

“This detection is an isolated incident with no known exposure to any other rabbits, domestic or wild,” State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said. “RHDV2 is not transmissible to humans, but it is highly infectious and fatal to domestic rabbits. We want to remind rabbit owners that practicing good biosecurity is the best defense.” 

The virus can remain in feed and bedding for an extended time, even in extreme temperatures. Surfaces, equipment, shoes, clothes and hands should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected when caring for rabbits.

Other measures to prevent RHDV2 include separating domestic rabbits from other pets, livestock, and wild animals. Newly acquired rabbits should be quarantined for at least 30 days from other animals. Sudden deaths of domestic rabbits should be reported to the state veterinarian’s office at 615-837-5120. Don’t handle dead wild rabbits. If you find dead wild rabbits, contact your Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency regional office.

Animal Health staff are researching the source of the virus in this case. There are no added movement restrictions or state veterinarian emergency orders at this time. Owners are interested in getting their rabbits vaccinated for protection against RHDV2 should discuss with their veterinarian.

For more information on RHDV2, biosecurity measures, and vaccination options, visit www.tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/animals/animal-health/rabbit-hemorrhagic-disease-virus-2.html

For guidance for cleaning and disinfection of RHDV-contaminated premises, visitwww.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/downloads/rhdv-cleaning-guidance.pdf

Information on Tennessee’s import requirements for domestic and wild rabbits, wild hares, and pikas can be found here: www.tn.gov/agriculture/news/2021/4/6/new-import-requirements-aim-to-protect-rabbits-from-deadly-virus.html

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