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.
Dear Mr. Stewart,
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.
If you are a breeder or grower who purchases live rabbits, AGM recommends you review your biosecurity measures as a precaution and take steps to address potential gaps. The following actions will significantly reduce the chance of RHDV2 or other contagious diseases affecting rabbits:
• Do not allow pet, feral, or wild rabbits to have contact with your rabbits or gain entry to the facility or home. If you own domestic rabbits, do not release them into the wild.
• 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. 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. We recommend disinfecting with 10% bleach or 10% sodium hydroxide mixed with water.
• Establish a working relationship with a veterinarian to review biosecurity practices for identification and closure of possible gaps.
Rabbit owners who have questions about this disease or suspect RHDV2, should contact their veterinarians.