Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) has been confirmed in wild cottontail rabbits found dead in Los Angeles County areas of Juniper Hills and Littlerock.
This exotic disease has been spreading rapidly across the U.S. southwestern states and northern Mexico since March of 2020.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus type 2 (RHDV2) was confirmed in a wild rabbit population in California for the first time in early May 2020. RHDV2 is highly contagious and lethal to both wild and domestic rabbits, hares and pikas. RHDV2 only affects rabbit species – it is not known to affect humans, livestock, or pets other than rabbits.
Infected rabbits, jackrabbits or hares may suffer swelling, internal bleeding and liver damage. Often, disease onset is rapid, so only dead rabbits might be seen. A rabbit that has died from RHDV2 may have blood on its mouth or nose.
Please report sightings of sick or dead wild rabbits, jackrabbits, hares or pikas to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Investigations Lab at (916) 358-2790 or file an online mortality report through CDFW’s website:
To report dead domestic rabbits, contact the CDFA Animal Health Branch: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/AHFSS/Animal_Health/RHD.html
Consult your private veterinarian if your rabbit is sick.
For more information:
RHDV is a calicivirus which is spread by transmission via the oral, nasal, or conjunctival route; RHDVa and RHDV2 are viral subtypes. The virus is present in urine, feces, and respiratory secretions from infected rabbits, thus contaminated bedding can be a source of infection. Contaminated foods might be a source of infection, and insects, birds, and scavengers may transmit the virus as vectors.
The virus can survive for long periods outside the host. It may survive up to three months on cloth at room temperature, and also in infected tissue (carcasses) under field conditions.
Historically uncommon in the United States, it is considered endemic to Australia, New Zealand, Cuba, parts of Asia and Africa, as well as most of Europe.