Veterinary Public Health


Pet Health Calendar
Contact Information
Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 288-7060
Fax (213) 481-2375
vet@ph.lacounty.gov
Adobe Reader
Get Adobe Reader icon
Note: PDF documents on this site were created using Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or later. If you are using an earlier version of Adobe Acrobat Reader (4.x or less), document functionality may be reduced.
 
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Detected in California

domestic rabbit  

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is a serious disease in rabbits that has been detected in California.  RHD is not a food safety concern and the disease holds no risk to humans.  All rabbit owners and veterinarians are advised to learn about RHD, and how to protect rabbits.

As of August 2020, RHD has been detected in wild cottontail rabbits in the areas of Juniper Hills and Littlerock of Los Angeles County.  See an updated list of California counties where RHD has been confirmed here

Notice of Quarantine - As of May 12, 2020 - No rabbit, hare, or their product (meat, pelts, hides, carcasses, etc.) or equipment used to process rabbits may enter California from states or counties where RHD has been diagnosed within the previous year.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease - California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) 5.2020 pdf icon1

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Frequently Asked Questions - CDFA 5.2020 pdf icon1

Quick Facts about Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease - California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) pdf icon1

Keeping Your Rabbit Safe From Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease - Biosecurity Recommendations - CDFA 5.2020 pdf icon1

How To Keep Your Clinic and Patients Safe from Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease - CDFA 6.2020 pdf icon1

General Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of RHDV Contaminated Premises - USDA 5.2020 pdf icon1

Guia general para la limpieza y desinfeccion de instalaciones contaminadas con el virus de la enfermedad hemorragica de los conejos (RHDV) - USDA 5.2020 pdf icon1

Deadly Disease Detected in California Wild Rabbits For the First Time - CDFW 5.13.20

Notice of Required Action Pursuant to Quarantine - CDFA 5.12.20 pdf icon1

Interactive Map - RHDV2 Affected Counties - United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

RHDV2 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions - USDA pdf icon1

 

When was RHD first detected in California?

The first case of RHD was confirmed on May 13, 2020 when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) identified a wild jackrabbit in Palm Springs, one of 10 that had died, that tested positive for the virus. The virus has also been found in wild and domestic rabbits in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Texas and Mexico since March 2020.

 

What is RHD?

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease can be caused by two different, related viruses, RHDV1 and RHDV2.  The current outbreak is due to the RHDV2 virus.  It is highly contagious and affects rabbits, both domesticated and wild.  Of rabbits that are exposed to the virus, almost all die.

 

How can rabbits get RHD?

Rabbits can catch the virus by inhalation, ingestion, or by absorption through scrapes and wounds.  It can be transmitted by direct contact with an infected rabbit or by contact with an object, person, clothing, or equipment that has encountered an affected rabbit.  Rabbits are also able to catch the virus through consumption of contaminated water or food.  Insects can spread the virus over long distances.

 

What symptoms do rabbits have with RHD?

Many times rabbits do not show signs before suddenly dying.  If they do show signs, they may show fever, inappetance, lethargy, muscle spasms, breathing difficulties, blue colored lips, or bleeding from the mouth and nose.  It can take between 1-5 days from the time a rabbit is exposed to the virus before it develops symptoms.  

 

Can humans catch RHD?

RHD does not affect humans or domestic animals other than rabbits.

 

How can I prevent RHD?

The most important way to prevent the disease is to take precautions to prevent exposing your rabbits to the virus.

  1. If rabbits are housed outside, house them off the ground when possible.  Do not use material from outside  for food or bedding.

  2. Wild rabbits.  Do not allow wild rabbits to come into your yard and try to prevent dogs, cats, birds, and other animals from bringing rabbit carcasses onto your property.  If you do find deceased rabbits, contact the health department.

  3. Do not spread on your hands or clothing.  After handling a rabbit, wash your hands.  Avoid handling rabbits that are not yours.  Before handling rabbits in different locations, change clothes and shoes as well as wash your hands.  Ensure that everyone who visits your rabbits washes their hands thoroughly before touching your rabbits and wears protective clothing such as coveralls, shoes covers, hair covers and gloves.

  4. Avoid borrowing equipment.  If you need to borrow equipment or if you buy used equipment, thoroughly scrub with a 10% bleach and water solution (1 part bleach, 9 parts water), leaving it to soak for at least 10 minutes before rinsing and letting dry.

  5. Do not add new rabbits.  If you must, make sure they are kept in a separate housing area.  Do not use the same equipment for the new and old rabbits.   

  6. If you find a deceased rabbit, report it to Veterinary Public Health at 213-288-7060 or email this reporting form to vet@ph.lacounty.gov.  Double-bag the body, spray the outside of each bag with diluted bleach (1 part bleach, 9 parts water), and then dispose of the bag into an outdoor garbage receptacle.  Wash your hands thoroughly and change clothes or disinfect all clothing/footwear/equipment used before handling other rabbits.  For additional instructions, click here

Is there a vaccine for RHD?

Currently, there is no approved vaccine for RHD available in the United States.  However, veterinarians are able to order an approved vaccine in California.  The steps are as follows:

  1. Choose which vaccine you want to import:

    • Eravac (contact michelle.woodward@hipra.com)

    • Filavac (contact karina.sorin@filavie.com).

  2. Complete the online APHIS Form 2005 found at https://ncahappspub.aphis.usda.gov/NCAHPortal/public/.

    • Contact the USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) at CVB@usda.gov if you have any questions.

  3. It is recommended to find a customs broker who handles vaccine importations.

  4. Decide how much of the vaccine you want to order. 

    • Consider ordering with a group of vets to decrease the cost.

  5. Email CDFA at ahbfeedback@cdfa.ca.gov with the following information:

    • Vaccine you want

    • Number of doses to order

    • Veterinarian name

    • Clinic name, address, email and phone number.

  6. You will be sent an approval letter from the State Veterinarian

    • This is required to approve the APHIS 2005 Form.

  7. Attach your CDFA approval letter to the APHIS Form 2005.

  8. After the CVB issues your permit, place an order with the vaccine company.

  9. Send CDFA the list of vets you are sharing the vaccine order with, if applicable. 

How can I report a potential RHD rabbit?

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease is a reportable condition in Los Angeles County as well as in California and in the United States, in general.

To report a case in Los Angeles County:

  • Call 213-288-7060 and ask to speak to the veterinarian on duty (Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm), or

  • Complete the reporting form here and email to vet@ph.lacounty.gov or fax to 213-481-2375

 

For More Information:

Regulatory Diseases of Concern in Rabbits - CDFA

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease In the United States - USDA 7.2020 pdf icon1

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Factsheet - USDA 6.2020 pdf icon1

List O: Disinfectants For Use Against RHDV2 - USDA

 

To stay up to date on emerging animal health issues, veterinary professionals are encouraged to join the Animal Health Alert Network (AHAN) to receive updates and alerts via email.  Complete the online form here or fill out the form by hand and email it to vet@ph.lacounty.gov.

 

Last updated: August 7, 2020

   
 
Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
Los Angeles County Seal: Enriching lives through effective and caring services