Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease


Rabbit hemorrhagic disease is a serious and extremely contagious viral disease of domesticated and wild rabbits. Beginning in March 2020, samples submitted from wild rabbit deaths in southern New Mexico were identified to be positive for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV-2). These were the first detections of RHDV-2 in wild North American hares. On March 24, 2020, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NVSL-FADDL) confirmed positive PCR results for RHDV-2 from domestic rabbit liver tissue in New Mexico. Subsequently, RHDV-2 has since been detected in the following states:

  • Arizona (domestic and wildlife)
  • California (domestic and wildlife)
  • Colorado (domestic and wildlife)
  • Florida (domestic)
  • Georgia (domestic)
  • Hawaii (domestic)
  • Idaho (wildlife)
  • Illinois (domestic)
  • Iowa (domestic)
  • Kansas (domestic)
  • Kentucky (domestic)
  • Minnesota (domestic)
  • Mississippi (domestic)
  • Montana (domestic)
  • Nevada (domestic)
  • New Mexico (domestic and wildlife)
  • New York (domestic)
  • Oregon (feral, domestic, and wildlife)
  • South Carolina (feral)
  • South Dakota (domestic)
  • Tennessee (domestic)
  • Texas (domestic and wildlife)
  • Utah (domestic and wildlife)
  • Wisconsin (domestic)
  • Wyoming (wildlife)

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is aware of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) and its implications to the industry. There is a conditionally licensed vaccine approved for use in the United States for RHD. The State Veterinarian has given permission for the vaccine to be distributed to licensed veterinarians in Nebraska, who will order and distribute the vaccine to clients. For more information, view this press release.

RHD is a notifiable Foreign Animal Disease and individuals or practitioners who suspect or have concerns about RHD in domestic or wild hare populations should contact NDA or USDA-APHIS-VS. NDA and USDA’s Foreign Animal Disease Diagnosticians are prepared to collect and submit samples for RHD.

Biosecurity Recommendations to Protect Your Rabbits:

  • Establish a veterinary relationship.
  • House rabbits indoors if possible.
  • Maintain a closed rabbitry.
  • Always wash hands with warm soapy water before entering your rabbit area, after removing protective clothing and before leaving the rabbit area.
  • Purchase from low-risk sources.
  • Quarantine new/returning rabbits for 30 days.
  • Separate footwear for barn, house, off farm.
  • Control flies, biting insects, and vermin.
  • Sanitize all equipment and cages moved on or off premises before they are returned to the rabbitry.
  • Do not put rabbits on the ground outside.
  • Do not use forage, branches, etc. for bedding.
  • Know where your feed comes from - do not feed grass or other forage that could be contaminated.