Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 found in Rabbits in Las Vegas


Ciara Ressel
Public Information Officer I
Las Vegas, Nev. - May 04, 2020

The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) in conjunction with the USDA has confirmed a case of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) in domestic rabbits in southern Nevada.

On April 27th, the NDA received a report of sudden death in domestic rabbits at a household in Las Vegas. Samples were collected and sent to the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL) and were reported back as positive cases on April 30, 2020.  The infected household is under quarantine, per state quarantine officer NDA Director Jennifer Ott. RHDV2 is not a COVID-19 related disease.

“RHDV2 is a non-zoonotic viral disease that causes sudden death in rabbits,” said NDA interim state veterinarian Dr. David Thain, DVM. “While it is not harmful to humans, it can spread quickly among rabbits and we have gotten reports of cases in nearby states recently.”

On March 25, the NDA Animal Disease Lab received information from the New Mexico state veterinarian confirming a case of RHDV2 in a domestic rabbit in New Mexico. On April 2, they also found RHDV2 in a wild black-tailed jackrabbit and several wild cottontails, representing the first detection of this virus in wild rabbits in the U.S. Since then, cases have also been confirmed in Arizona, Texas and Colorado.

RHDV2 can be spread through contact with infected rabbits, their meat or their fur, or other materials such as a handler’s clothing or shoes. While early detection is difficult, some infected rabbits may develop a fever, loss of appetite, or show respiratory issues. Good biosecurity can help mitigate the spread. Recommended biosecurity practices include:

  • Keep outside pet, feral or wild rabbits separated from your existing rabbits.
  • Use separate equipment for newly acquired or sick rabbits to avoid spreading disease.
  • Sanitize all equipment and cages moved on or off premises before they are returned to the rabbitry.
  • Always wash hands with warm soapy water before entering your rabbit area, after removing protective clothing and before leaving the rabbit area.
  • Do not allow visitors in rabbitries or let them handle pet rabbits without protective clothing (including coveralls, shoe covers, hair covering, and gloves).

Additional information on RHDV2 can be found through USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Per NRS Chapter 571.160, any animal owner or practicing veterinarian who has knowledge of a confirmed case of a reportable disease, shall immediately notify the NDA Animal Disease Laboratory. A list of reportable diseases can be found at agri.nv.gov.

About the Nevada Department of Agriculture

The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) mission is to preserve, protect and promote Nevada’s agriculture. The department has 150 dedicated employees providing services in its five divisions, Administration, Animal Industry, Consumer Equitability, Food and Nutrition, and Plant Industry. The department’s $232 million budget facilitates regulatory and administrative work in agriculture and food manufacturing industries, protecting public and environmental health and worker safety, and providing food distribution and oversight for the United States Department of Agriculture’s school and community nutrition programs.