We have an important update to share regarding the current RHDV outbreak in the Southwest. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is a highly contagious disease caused by a calicivirus that affects rabbits. This includes wild and domesticated European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), from which our own companion rabbits are descended. Until 2020, it had not been known to affect any North American native rabbits or hares, such as cottontails, snowshoe hares and jackrabbits, however, now it has been confirmed in the 2020 Southwest outbreak as causing death in these wildlife species as well.
RHDV does not affect people or other pets, only rabbits. The 2020 Southwest outbreak has occurred in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, affecting both wild and domestic rabbits. For anyone living in an area with current spread of RHDV, the most important things you can do to keep your rabbits safe are to keep your rabbits inside (including no outdoor playtime) and to take biosecurity measures at home.
Read more about biosecurity measures, such as washing your hands thoroughly before handling your rabbits, adopting a “no shoes in the house” policy or keeping your rabbits from running in high traffic areas of your home, taking additional precautions if volunteering with rabbits or visiting other rabbits, installing window screens to prevent the entry of insects, and using one of the disinfectants effective against RHDV.