A deadly disease in rabbits has been found in New York State. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets found Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 in a domestic rabbit in Montgomery County. It is a highly contagious and fatal disease that can affect both wild and domestic rabbits. The department is warning rabbit owners to take steps to protect their animals from this disease,

- Do not allow pet or wild rabbits to have contact with your rabbits or gain entry to the facility or home.
- Do not allow visitors in rabbitries or let them handle pet rabbits without protective clothing (including coveralls, shoe covers, hair covering, and gloves).
- Always wash hands with warm soapy water before entering your rabbit area, after removing protective clothing and before leaving the rabbit area.
- Do not introduce new rabbits from unknown or untrusted sources. Do not add rabbits to your rabbitry from animal shelters or other types of rescue operations.
- If you bring outside rabbits into your facility or home, keep them separated from your existing rabbits for at least 30 days. Use separate equipment for newly acquired or sick rabbits to avoid spreading disease.
- Sanitize all equipment and cages moved on or off premises before they are returned to the rabbitry.
- Establish a working relationship with a veterinarian to review biosecurity practices.

If your pet rabbit or a wild rabbit that may frequent your property shows signs of fever, lethargy, hemorrhage, or seizures, it may be suffering from Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2. The virus can live for weeks on surfaces such as shoes, bedding, and equipment. In March of 2020, the first case of the disease was found in New York City.

If you suspect your pet rabbit or a wild rabbit may have the disease, contact New York State right away,

Sick or dead domestic rabbits should be reported to the State Veterinarian’s office at 518-457-3502 or to the USDA at 866-536-7593. Multiple wild rabbits found dead or wild rabbits with blood-stained noses should be reported to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Wildlife Health Unit at 518-478-2203. Wild rabbits found dead on the road do not need to be reported.

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