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Highly contagious rabbit disease identified in Hartford County

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(WFSB) – A highly contagious rabbit disease was detected in Hartford County, according to the state.

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture said Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) was found at a residence.

RHDV2 is a foreign animal disease that is highly contagious, the state said. It can be deadly to domestic and wild rabbits.

The disease cannot be transmitted from animals to humans, said the state.

The department reported the sudden death of 13 rabbits on September 6. A 14th died on September 8.

Laboratory testing on September 11 confirmed detection of RHDV2.

“While this case is an isolated incident and limited to one household, rabbit owners are being encouraged to ensure proper health and sanitary measures to prevent the disease by taking simple steps to reduce the chance of RHDV2 affecting rabbits,” the department of agriculture said.

The department gave tips that could help prevent spread of the disease:

  • Do not allow wild rabbits or pet rabbits from other locations to have contact with your rabbits or to gain entry to your 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 when leaving the rabbit area.
  • Do not introduce new rabbits from unknown or untrusted sources.
  • 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.

According to the state, the source of the outbreak has not been identified. Clinical signs of rabbit hemorrhagic disease include sudden death, fever, lack of appetite, respiratory signs, nervous signs, internal bleeding leading to blood-stained noses, and anemia. The disease is confirmed through collection of postmortem tissue samples,” the department said.

For more information on the disease, click here.

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