Department of Agriculture | RABBIT HEMORRHAGIC DISEASE CONFIRMED IN CAPE MAY COUNTY skip to main content skip to main navigation
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IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2022
www.nj.gov/agriculture  
PO Box 330
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330

Contact:
Jeff Wolfe
P: (609) 913-6559
C: (609) 433-1785
E: jeff.wolfe@ag.nj.gov

 

      


(TRENTON) – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) confirmed Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) in a 1-year-old spayed female rabbit in Cape May County.

RHDV2 is highly contagious and can be fatal to domestic and wild rabbits but cannot be transmitted from animals to humans. RHDV2 is a foreign animal disease caused by several virus strains.

On May 8, 2022, sudden death in one rabbit was reported to the NJDA and USDA. RHDV2 detection was confirmed via laboratory testing on May 12, 2022.  A second rabbit died on the premises on May 11, 2022.  It is suspected to be RHDV2 related.  The remaining rabbit is quarantined and has not shown any signs of the disease.  The outbreak’s source has not yet been identified, and there is no evidence of infection in other locations. The epidemiologic investigation is ongoing.  RHDV2 is a reportable disease, and owners should monitor their rabbits for the disease’s clinical signs.

Clinical signs of rabbit hemorrhagic disease include sudden death, fever, inappetence, respiratory signs, nervous signs, internal bleeding leading to blood-stained noses, and anemia. Diffuse hepatic necrosis is a key pathologic feature of the disease that may be seen on the postmortem exam.

In November 2021, the NJDA approved the sale of a conditionally approved RHDV2 vaccine manufactured by Medgene Labs of Brookings, S.D. The vaccine can only be used by New Jersey licensed veterinarians in domestic rabbits. The USDA's Center for Veterinary Biologics granted the vaccine Emergency Use Authorization as an experimental vaccine to protect against RHDV2. The vaccine is an inactivated recombinant vaccine given as a two-dose series, 21 days apart. Pet owners are encouraged to speak with their licensed veterinarian about RHDV2 vaccination. 

All veterinarians and rabbit owners are encouraged to be alert for RHDV2 and continue practicing good biosecurity to prevent the spread of RHDV2. If you suspect RHDV2, please alert the NJDA, Division of Animal Health at 609-671-6400. The 24-hour number to report a foreign animal disease to USDA APHIS VS Area Veterinarian in Charge is 866-536-7593.

More information about Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease can be found at:

https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/fs-rhdv2.pdf

USDA APHIS Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Resources 

USDA (RHDV) Cleaning Guidance July 2020 

National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials (NASAHO) – RHDV Biosecurity Guidance 

NASAHO – RHDV Shows and Exhibitions Guidance 

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