Rabbit hemorrhagic disease confirmed in El Paso and Prowers counties

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease confirmed in El Paso and Prowers counties

The Colorado Department of Agriculture distributed this communication on May 12, 2020.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) have confirmed cases of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (RHDV2) in feral rabbits near Calhan, CO, about 35 miles northeast of Colorado Springs, and in a cottontail in rural Prowers County.

RHDV2 is highly contagious and lethal among rabbits. It does not affect humans or domestic species other than rabbits and is not related to COVID-19. RHDV-2 is considered a foreign animal disease and is of high concern at the state and federal levels.

Colorado’s first case of RHDV2 was confirmed in Alamosa County on April 17, 2020. RHDV2 cases have also been reported in both domestic and wild rabbits in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas.

With incidents of RHDV2 increasing in Colorado and western states, CDA and CPW are asking the public to watch for multiple dead or sick rabbits, which can suggest RHDV2 or a sign of tularemia or plague, diseases that can cause serious illness in people. Do not handle or consume sick or dead wildlife and do not allow pets to contact or consume wildlife carcasses.

For more information about RHDV2 and to view a real-time map of confirmed cases in Colorado, visit CDA’s Animal Health Division RHDV2 webpage.

 Guidelines for wild cottontails, hares, and pika

  • Please report any sick/dead wild rabbits, hares or pika to your local CPW office.
  • Do not handle rabbits or rodents that have been found dead.
  • Do not allow pets or scavengers to feed 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.
  • Do 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.

Guidelines for domestic rabbits  

  • 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.
  • Rabbit owners who have questions about the disease should contact their veterinarian.
  • Veterinarians and owners must report suspected RHDV2 cases in domestic rabbits to the State Veterinarian’s Office at 303-869-9130.

Helpful links on RHDV-2: