Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas report cases of RHDV2 in domestic and wild rabbits

Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas report cases of RHDV2 in domestic and wild rabbits

The Colorado State Veterinarian’s Office distributed this message on April 14, 2020.


Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have recently reported cases of RHDV2 in domestic rabbits, wild cottontails, and jackrabbits. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 2 is a highly contagious and fatal disease of domestic rabbits and wild rabbits of the genus Oryctolagus. This disease is considered a foreign animal disease (FAD) and is of high concern at the state and federal levels. The recent involvement of wild cottontails and hares is of particular concern.

Clinical signs: Many times, the only signs of the disease are sudden death and possibly blood stained noses caused by internal bleeding. Infected rabbits may also develop a fever, be hesitant to eat, or show respiratory or nervous signs.

Due to the proximity and progression of RHDV2 cases in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, veterinarians and rabbit owners should be aware of the disease risks at this time because of the highly contagious nature of this disease. At this time RHDV2 has not yet been reported in domestic or wild rabbits in Colorado.

Also please be aware that the virus causing rabbit hemorrhagic disease (a calicivirus) is NOT in any way related to the circulating novel coronavirus that primarily affects people.

A vaccine for RHDV2 is not currently available in Colorado. Rabbit owners should practice good biosecurity measures to protect their animals from this disease, such as washing your hands before and after working with rabbits and not sharing equipment with other owners. Rabbit owners should also avoid contact with wild or feral rabbits.

Reporting of rabbit illnesses or deaths:

  • Owners: Rabbit owners who have questions about the disease should contact their veterinarian.
  • Veterinarians: Veterinarians must report suspected RHDV cases in domestic rabbits to the State Veterinarian’s Office at 303-869-9130. Disease investigations will be completed by a Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostician.
  • Wildlife:  To report suspect cases (sick or dead wild rabbits or hares), contact your local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office or Dr. Karen Fox at 970-472-4318.

New Mexico RHDV Update

  • Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease has now been confirmed in domestic rabbits in Chaves, Cibola, Curry, Dona Ana, Eddy, Grant, Lincoln, McKinley, Santa Fe, Torrance, and Valencia Counties in New Mexico.

Arizona RHDV Update

  • On April 6, the AZDA received a report of a sudden die off in a domestic rabbit population in northeastern Arizona, and RHDV2 was confirmed on April 9.

Texas RHDV Update

  • The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) was notified of the presence of RHDV2 in domestic rabbits on a Hockley County premises on April 10, 2020. This is the first confirmed case of RHDV2 in Texas.

Additional Resources:

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease – USDA

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease – CFSPH

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease – OIE

RHDV Emerging Risk Notice_10-19