Click on the page to access pdf


What You Can Do About RHDV2 from ARBA Rabbit  & Cavy Health Committee Chair Dr Jay Hriez.  Read and download pdf here.


The ARBA has received notice from USDA officials that there has been a confirmed domestic rabbit RHDv2 infection in southern Nev

ada.  There is no additional information at this time however they will keep us updated.

Visit the Nevada Department of Agriculture to read the latest here

It is important that breeders maintain strict bio-security measures for their rabbitries as the virus is spreadi

ng through wildlife populations.


The Colorado Department of Agriculture has created a page specifically to report updates on the RHD virus within their state. Check this link frequently to get the latest information.  This link is also available on the ARBA Announcements page.

Visit the Colorado Department of Agriculture to read the latest here

Broomfield, Colo. –  A highly contagious and fatal disease of rabbits and hares has been detected for the first time in Colorado. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) report that Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus type 2 (RHDV-2) was confirmed late last week in three wild cottontail rabbits approximately 10 miles southeast of Alamosa in Costilla County, CO. RHDV-2 does NOT affect humans or domestic species other than rabbits, but is highly contagious and lethal among rabbits.

RHDV-2 is considered a foreign animal disease and is of high concern at the state and federal levels. Until recently, RHDV-2 was not considered a virus that would infect North American cottontails or hares; however, cases have now been reported in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. After these reports in other Western states, CPW and CDA increased efforts to raise awareness of the potential for this disease in Colorado.

CPW collected carcasses for testing after a report of dead wild rabbits in Costilla County on April 13th and submitted them to the CPW wildlife health laboratory for necropsy.  Testing conducted by the USDA Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory was reported as positive for RHDV- 2 on April 17, 2020. Recent unusual mortalities in Colorado wild rabbits have only been reported in Costilla County to date, but CPW is requesting public assistance in identifying additional mortality events.

This virus has had significant impacts on domestic rabbits as well as wild rabbits and species that prey upon them in Europe. However, multiple dead or sick rabbits can also be a sign of tularemia or plague, diseases that can cause serious illness in people.  Do not handleor consume sick or dead wildlife, and do not allow pets to contact or consume wildlife carcasses. RHDV-2 is from a different viral family than coronavirus and is not related to COVID-19.

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.
  • Contact your veterinarian for more information about this disease in domestic rabbits.

Helpful Links on RHDV-2:



Your ARBA Board continues to focus on initiatives to protect our members and herds from the RHD threat.  Government officials have been quite cooperative in sharing information as well as open to seeking means by which to protect our herds.  The ARBA Board has sent a formal notice to officials in CO requesting they apply for the emergency permission for importation and use of the vaccine.  Although officials are open to requesting the permits, the issue is finding veterinarians to obtain import permits, purchase the vaccine, and even then it may take some time to obtain the vaccine.

The USDA has also been quite helpful in the efforts to address this serious outbreak.  Our Stakeholder Relations Adviser has shared “{that} the USDA’s Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) is looking at the option of allowing limited use of an unlicensed vaccine under a Research & Evaluation permit. Should the USDA allow limited use of an unlicensed vaccine, we will not know the efficacy of the product.   The vaccine is quite expensive, so it’s unclear how widely it would be used, or what the company’s capacity is to supply larger quantities. CVB leadership understands the importance of getting a licensed vaccine on the market.  We view the importing of an unlicensed vaccine as an emergency stop-gap measure only, and the plan would be to limit it only to states where the disease has been confirmed.  CVB will work with any companies interested in licensing a vaccine in the US.”  The ARBA has already been contacted by one potential company interested in pursuing the Research & Evaluation permit and is providing information to encourage this opportunity.

The most significant action breeders can take at this time is to review the literature provided and enact bio-security measures to protect against transmission.  More information will be provided in updates as soon as it becomes available.


Southwest US Faces faces lethal rabbit disease outbreak


Get the Facts Here:  USDA Latest Publication on Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease

Voluntary herd quarantine in AZ, NM, CO, UT & Western Texas

At this time RHD infections have been identified in New Mexico’s Grant, Dona Ana, Santa Fe, Curry, Chaves, Valencia, Eddy, Torrance, McKinley, and Lincoln counties.  Since being identified in NM, there are now confirmed infections in Arizona and western Texas.  The RHDv2 virus can also infect native North American species of rabbits as well as domestic rabbits.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to manage the spread of the virus in wildlife thus making this outbreak difficult to contain.
Due to the movement restrictions imposed to “Flatten the Curve” with COVID-19, many Americans have been ordered to shelter in place.  ARBA chartered clubs have been forced to cancel their sanctioned shows to protect the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Although a tragic circumstance, this will help minimize transmission of RHD within domestic rabbits populations from areas with identified infections.
At this time the ARBA is asking all breeders in AZ, NM, CO, UT, and western TX to voluntarily recognize a herd quarantine until RHD infections are effectively managed.  Breeders in these areas are also encouraged to enact strict bio-security measures to reduce the opportunity of their herds contracting this deadly virus.  Rabbit breeders are encouraged to not utilize cross country transport service during this time in an effort to contain the outbreak and protect rabbit populations across the continent.
Please review the literature provided for appropriate bio-security and containment protocols.  The ARBA is unable to manage suspicious infections or testing for RHD.  Any suspicious infections should be reported to your local veterinarian immediately.  Local veterinarians will engage the appropriate state agency when managing a suspicious infection as this is a mandatory reportable foreign animal disease.  Should emergency permission for vaccine importation be made available in outbreak areas, distribution will be conducted through local veterinarians.  Breeders may also contact their state veterinary office to report suspicious infections directly  Breeders in states with identified RHD infections may also wish to contact their state veterinary office and engage them to allow importation of the two vaccines available to cover RHDV, especially the second variant that has jumped to cottontails. 
The ARBA is actively seeking support to manage this serious concern through government agencies and will continue to provide updates as soon as verified information becomes available.

Arizona: Two Separate cases of RHDV2 detected in both domestic and wild rabbit population.

New Mexico: Wild Jackrabbit Population Tested Positive for RHDV2

We have received notice that results on a wild jack rabbit population in Eddy County, New Mexico tested positive for RHDV2. Eddy, Torrance, and McKinley counties have all reported confirmed RHDv2 positive cases.  Additionally, a positive rabbit was just confirmed in Lincoln county. Samples have also been submitted for Chaves and Curry counties. Authorities are providing regular updates as information becomes available.  The concern with the wild jack rabbit population is a new development and may explain more the spread of the virus in New Mexico.  The widespread cancellations of events does reduce potential transmission although authorities do not know the initial source of the infections in New Mexico.  The ARBA will provide additional information the mo

ment it becomes available.  In the meantime please maintain strict biosecurity measures to secure your herds.

You can review and adjust biosecurity methods here:

NYC Confirmed RHD Infections

The ARBA has received notice that an isolated location in NYC has confirmed RHD infections. As this is a veterinary clinic, there is no indication that any of the infected rabbits are associated with a breeder’s facility. Investigations remain underway to determine the source of this isolated infections. Below is the notification received. Please refer to the information regarding RHD on our Facebook page, the ARBA website, and supporting recommendations are also offered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Out of an abundance of caution, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (AGM) is notifying the American Rabbit Breeders Association that on March 4, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) at a veterinary clinic in NYC. RHD is a viral disease that causes sudden death in rabbits. RHD poses no risk to human health or other animals.

USDA is currently investigating this incident, with support from AGM and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. While this is being considered an isolated situation, the Department is notifying area veterinarians and encouraging the practice of good biosecurity for anyone working with rabbits.

You can review and adjust biosecurity methods here:

A Message from the ARBA Executive Director

Dear ARBA members:
The British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture has issued the attached media release regarding an isolated RHD infection in Parksville, BC.  Please note that after follow up discussions with Ministry officials, this has been categorized as an “isolated infection”. No other suspicious deaths have been reported. This was one location, a single feral colony of about 20 to 25 rabbits appears to have been wiped out. Insect vectors were not implicated in the 2018 outbreak and the isolate of RHDv2 last year shows no characteristics normally associated with the 2 strains. Tissues have been submitted to the national laboratory in Winnipeg to have the strain from this event determined.
Breeders are encouraged to maintain healthy biosecurity measures to minimize risk of infection.  Please review the fact sheets provided regarding RHD and how you can protect your herd.  click here
More information will be provided as it becomes available.  Again, the Ministry of Agriculture has not categorized this infection as an outbreak.  If you have questions regarding the upcoming shows in BC please contact the show secretary for more information.
All the best,
Eric Stewart
ARBA Executive Director

Message from PA Department of Agriculture

In an effort to provide the most up to date and reliable information regarding the recent isolated RHD1 infection in PA, Executive Director Stewart met with officials at the PA Department of Agriculture headquarters last week. We have been provided the attached letter from the officials detailing facts pertaining to this isolated infection. It is important to note that the ARBA is working with government authorities to provide the most accurate information possible and that operating off of social media conjecture benefits no one. Should you have a question or concern, please contact your District Director.

The ARBA Hall of Fame Welcomes our 25th Inductee. Dr. Chris Hayhow

By Current ARBA President Josh Humphries

Being inducted into the ARBA Hall Of Fame is the highest honor that a member of our association can receive. It is my great honor

to tell you about a member who has been instrumental in the development and success of our beloved organization.

The ARBA Hall of Fame was established in 1952 and there are only 24 members that have received this highest honor. Tonight we will add a 25th member to this prestigious group.

Dr. Chris Hayhow joined the ARBA on September 12, 1967 (over 50 years) and is a life member of this association.
Dr. Hayhow earned his ARBA registrars license in 1971 and has been an ARBA Licensed Judge 581 for over 30 years. Dr. Hayhow has judged in 40 states and most provinces of Canada.

Dr. Hayhow has raised most of the breeds in the ARBA Standard of Perfection, he won Best Rex open at the 1971 ARBA Convention as a teenager; bred

and exhibited outstanding Rex, Polish, Netherland Dwarfs, Dutch, and New Zealand’s as a youth member. Chris has shown Dutch rabbits for many years and has helped his children enjoy the rabbit hobby with Dutch, English Angoras and Mini Lops.

Dr. Hayhow served as the ARBA District 9 Director from 1995 to 1996, as he resigned when he relocated to Nebraska.

Some of Dr. Hayhow’s greatest contributions to our association began when he served as the ARBA President 1998 – 2004 and again in 2006 – 2010.
While President, Dr. Hayhow revised the ARBA Convention Guidelines. During his presidency he helped guide preparations for a

new ARBA Guidebook, and re wrote the ARBA Show Rules.

In 1998 Dr. Hayhow initiated the funding for the ARBA Hall of Fame Library and in 2002 dedicated the Library to the late Dr. T. E. (Doc) Reed, and the late Oren Reynolds former Editor of the Domestic Rabbits Magazine and Advisor to Chris while serving on the ARBA Board.
In 2001 Dr. Hayhow received the prestigious ARBA Award of Excellence from Oren Reynolds.
Education is very important to Chris as he supported and helped plan for the ARBA Judges Academy development.

Additionally Dr. Hayhow initiated the ARBA President’s Award of Excellence.

With his vision the ARBA was able to go from 8,000 to 20,000 coops. He also coordinated the purchase of show equipment, and building of judging units for our annual ARBA Convention and Show.

Chris was very fortunate in having mentors in the association such as Harry Rice, Oren Reynolds, Jeannie Maddox, Fibber (Fib) McGehee and Joe Frizzell.
The highest honor Chris has received to date from the ARBA was when the 2011-2015 ARBA Standard of Perfection was dedicated to him.
I served as the ARBA District 6 Director for 6 years under the leadership of Dr. Chris Hayhow. Chris has been a mentor to me and I attribute my success as the ARBA President to Dr. Chris Hayhow. DR


Executive Director Stewart has been in touch with officials from both Ohio and Michigan for follow up information regarding suspicious cases of rabbit illnesses.  Michigan reports that there have been no RHD positive cases within the state.  Ohio reports that other than the one isolated case of a RHD positive rabbit test, no additional animals have tested positive for RHD.  The premises in Medina County Ohio which yielded the positive RHD rabbit test remains under quarantine.  The surviving rabbit that resided in the horse stall where the RHD positive rabbit lived in Medina County OH, has since been surrendered and after multiple tests the surviving rabbit has tested negative for RHD.  Other government agencies, in cooperation with OVMA, have also collected samples from nearby wildlife and all samples collected have tested negative for RHD.  Breeders are encouraged to maintain reasonable bio-security measures; however, note that this single isolated case of a rabbit testing positive for RHD in Medina County, Ohio is not categorized as an outbreak.


We are sorry to report that a RHD2 infected rabbit has been confirmed in Medina County, Ohio. When learning of the statement this afternoon, the ARBA immediately mobilized to obtain facts regarding the infection. In speaking with the Ohio State Veterinary Services office, we were able to determine that the report is unfortunately true. Although the identity and general location of the owners are confidential, we have learned that the rabbits were maintained privately and were not show rabbits. Rabbits maintained on the property were not transported on or off of the property for some time. False positive tests can be common, however in this case the tests were performed by Plum Island labs and PCR was conducted twice with the same result- RHD2 was isolated. Testing takes time, hence the delay from suspected infection and the notice being provided today; the ARBA was not alerted until this afternoon. Ohio State has involved multiple agencies in their efforts to conduct epidemiological study to determine how this isolated rabbit became infected, and to assess the of risk transmission to domestic rabbit populations in Ohio and North America. At this time it has not been categorized as an outbreak, the property that had housed the confirmed infected rabbit has been quarantined, and the ARBA will be the primary industry contact for updates from the OVMA. In the meantime, your ARBA Board of Directors are reviewing this serious concern and will be providing immediate updates both through the ARBA Website and ARBA Facebook page. We recognize the concerns with upcoming shows and the ARBA National Convention, both being at the forefront of the biosecurity conversations. Although the RHD2 virus was identified in British Columbia earlier this year, there is no evidence of any correlation between the BC infections and the infection identified in Medina County, Ohio. 

Please review the OVMA news post below long with the fact sheets regarding RHD and prevention. Expect immediate updates the moment they are available from the authorities. It is recommended to not act upon information from other sources. The ARBA will be the first point of contact for disseminating any developments regarding this serious concern. 

Vet Zone Article – Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease
RHD Fact Sheet
First confirmed U.S. case of RHD2 found in Medina County | OVMA News & Classifieds

ARBA Election Results


Josh Humphries – 2957 votes *
Joel Marshall – 2095 votes


Rusty Westhoff – 2590 votes *
Jeff Hardin – 2435 votes


Arlyse DeLoyola – (elected by acclamation)


Theresa Christen – 367 votes *
David Cardinal – 213 votes


Jim Rowland – 217 votes *
Jeff Albright – 196 votes
Errean Kratochvil – 31 votes


Terry Fender – 517 votes *
David Moll – 430 votes
LeAnn McKinney – 370 votes

* Elected

ARBA Office Relocating

The ARBA Board of Directors has finalized its decision to relocate the ARBA headquarters office from Illinois to Pennsylvania. This is a business decision that is expected to reduce operating costs by an estimated $20,000 per year that will help to maintain fee schedules despite inflation. In addition, the net proceeds from the sale of the existing facility and subsequent purchase of a facility in Pennsylvania is expected to provide a significant cash reserve
The current ARBA headquarters office will close on June 1st and the Pennsylvania office will begin operations on June 4th. During this transition period there may be some delays due to the conversion from one facility to another; however, every effort will be made to minimize service interruption. The Board has directed that any questions regarding office relocation be fielded by ARBA Steering Committee Co-Chairs, Mike Avesing and Roger Hassenpflug. Due to the involved nature of the relocation preparations, Eric Stewart may not be able to return your call immediately as he is currently occupied with the office transition.
Josh Humphries
ARBA President

RHD Update RE: British Columbia, Canada

The ARBA has been formally notified that there are two rabbitries on Vancouver Island, BC with confirmed RHD infections.  We were warned that there was the potential for these infections but asked to not release any notice until results were confirmed through testing.  Both rabbitries were utilizing recommended bio-security measures.  In speaking with one of the owners today we collected additional recommendations for means by which to potentially receive additional support in BC for containing the outbreak.  Please continue to look for more updates as we obtain additional information to keep you informed of all developments with the RHD outbreak in BC.

ARBA Statement Regarding Recent RHD Outbreak in British Columbia, Canada

The ARBA has remained vigilant in its monitoring the RHD outbreak in British Columbia, Canada.  The authorities have confirmed that there have been no identified infections in any rabbitry.  Testing has found the virus in two Eastern Cottontail rabbits (non-native species to BC), but no new infections identified in any other feral domestic rabbits.  The authorities have not determine the definitive source of the RHD outbreak but all leads indicate the feral population infected at Vancouver Island University was likely the first.  Allegations that rescue groups were sending rabbits from BC to Washington have been investigated and no RHD infections have been identified within the USA.
Citizens in BC have been offered the opportunity to obtain the RHD vaccine by contacting their veterinarian to be placed on the order.  There are no plans for the vaccine to become available within the USA.  It is illegal to obtain, possess, or administer the RHD vaccine within the USA.  Any rabbit vaccinated will test positive for RHD therefore if there were an outbreak, all rabbits testing positive for RHD would be eliminated.  The USDA-APHIS have strongly encouraged the ARBA to continue educating members regarding sound management and bio-security measures.  Keep in mind that the virus can be introduced on your shoes, clothing, objects, other animals, insects, and even within our own sinuses.  If you see suspicious deaths or any symptoms you feel may be RHD, immediately contact your veterinarian or any veterinary professional.  This is a mandatory reportable disease. The virus can be killed from surfaces using a 10% bleach solution.  There is not a cure for RHD and the mortality rates are generally so high that many outbreaks will end due to the rabbits being dead.  Prevention is key and we encourage you to please read the attached pdf fact sheets on the disease and appropriate bio-security precautions you can take.
Members in British Columbia have been quite responsible with how they have managed living within the outbreak areas.  We commend these breeders for their sacrifices and willingness to voluntarily quarantine their herds during this crisis.  We remain optimistic that the outbreak can be contained.  In the meantime, the ARBA Show Rules do permit show committees the option to deny entries from areas within 150 miles of a confirmed RHD outbreak.  Some clubs have decided to cancel their spring shows, but note that this is not a decision mandated by ARBA or the authorities at this time.  The single most important thing we can each do as rabbit breeders is to not panic.  Read over the literature provided, make judicious decisions regarding husbandry practices, and continue to enjoy our hobby.  The ARBA will continue to communicate with officials both within the USA and Canada thus remaining up to date with any and all developments.
Members are encouraged to download and print the following articles…

Mini Rex Sable Variety, Lionhead Siamese Sable Variety, and Tan Abyssinian Cavy Recognized as of December 1, 2017

The Sable Mini Rex, Siamese Sable Lionhead, and Tan Abyssinian Cavy passed their 3rd and final presentation at the 2017 ARBA Convention in Indianapolis, IN. The ARBA office has prepared official standard inserts formatted to fit the pages of the 2016-2020 ARBA Standard of Perfection for the new varieties:
12/1/2017 ARBA Standards Inserts (Mini Rex, Lionhead, and Cavy)

ARBA Partnering with FFA

To promote it’s recent partnership with Future Farmers of America – FFA, the ARBA has added a new page to its website to serve as an immediate resource to FFA members as well as advisors who are interested in expanding their current market and/or breeding rabbit programs. Below is a link to the new page…
FFA Resource Page

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