Deadly rabbit disease confirmed in Iowa

The first case of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) has been confirmed within the state of Iowa, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced Monday.

The disease is not considered a risk to humans or other animal species, including cats and dogs, but it is highly contagious and deadly to rabbits.

The confirmed case is in Story County. The affected rabbits in this isolated case had not recently traveled to any exhibitions or fairs.

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According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), RHDV2 is a viral disease fatal to lagomorph species (rabbits, hares, and pikas). It does not affect humans or other animals. It was first detected in wild rabbit populations in the United States in March 2020.

RHDV2 can be spread by contact with infected rabbits, their meat or fur, or materials that infected rabbits have come into contact with. Often, the only clinical signs of the disease are sudden death and blood-stained noses caused by internal bleeding.

Rabbit owners should consult their veterinarian about possible steps to protect their animals. If you suspect a rabbit in your possession or on your premises has died as a result of RHDV2, please contact your local veterinarian. Veterinarians with concerns or a suspected case should immediately contact the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.