RHVD2 in the US - what you need to know

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Blue eyes

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There has been much in the news about RHVD2 (Rabbit Hemorrhagic Viral Disease) spreading in the United States. It is
a very contagious and deadly disease caused by the calcivirus. It kills swiftly and with little warning. Until 2020, it was not known to affect the wild rabbit population in the US. The pet rabbit population in the US was also free from this disease except for the rare isolated cases. A second strain (known as RHDV2) has overtaken and largely replaced the 1st strain of the virus.

Unfortunately, there is now an outbreak of this disease in parts of the US & Canada. New York, Ohio, and the Pacific Northwest (Washington state and BC Canada) have had outbreaks. Separate from those outbreaks is another outbreak currently in the Southwest (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Mexico).

Vaccines against this disease have been and are currently used in Europe but are not widely available here in the US. In those areas of the US that have been affected by the outbreak, vets are permitted to request import of the vaccine from Europe.

Annual vaccines are required to help protect against RHDV.

The House Rabbit Society has been keeping their information current on what is happening with RHDV2 in the US. Check here for further info: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) | House Rabbit Society

How to Protect Your Rabbits
Biosecurity measures are essential to protect your rabbit in an outbreak, even if they are vaccinated.
  • House your rabbits indoors. We strongly recommend that rabbits be kept indoors, or in enclosed environments, and not allowed outdoor playtime. Rabbits who live outdoors and those who exercise outdoors are at greater risk of contracting this disease.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling your rabbits, particularly when you come home from places where other rabbits may have been, or where people who have been in contact with rabbits may have been, including feed stores, pet stores, fairgrounds, humane societies, etc.
  • Adopt a “no shoes in the house” policy, or keep your bunnies from running in high traffic areas of your home.
  • Trim your rabbit’s nails and groom them at home. Learn how to trim your rabbit’s nails and groom them at home, instead of taking them to a rescue or vet’s office, which are higher-risk locations.
  • Change your clothes and wash your hands after handling or coming in contact with other rabbits. Wash these clothes twice in hot water and dry in the dryer before wearing around your rabbit.
  • Don’t let your rabbit come into physical contact with other rabbits from outside your home, for example, “hoppy hour” or “bunny playground” activities.
  • If you volunteer at a shelter in an area with an outbreak, have special clothes and shoes that you wear only at the shelter. You may want to wear shoe covers or plastic bags over your shoes, secured with a rubber band. When you leave the shelter, remove the bags and dispose of them before you get into your car, making sure not to touch the outside of the bag. Follow clothes laundering instructions above, and shoe disinfecting instructions below. This protects the shelter rabbits as well as your own. The same considerations apply to anyone who sees rabbits at work and also has rabbits at home.
  • To disinfect shoes that may have been contaminated, place the shoes in a bath containing one of the below disinfectants. The shoes must be in contact with the disinfectant for the required contact time, during which time the disinfectant must remain wet. Be sure to read the label instructions for contact time for your disinfectant.
  • Use an effective disinfectantfor this virus. Clean the item first, then disinfect. Read all disinfectant instructions and safety information provided by the manufacturer before using. Ask your veterinarian about how to obtain these:
    • accelerated hydrogen peroxide (Prevail, Rescue wipes or solution (formerly “Accel”), and Peroxigard)
    • sodium hypochlorite, household bleach(1:10 dilution = 1.5c bleach (12oz) in 1 gallon water)
      • organic matter inactivates bleach, so be sure the item is thoroughly cleaned with soap and water before disinfecting
      • Check the label on the bleach to make sure it is intended for disinfection, and not expired
      • Never mix bleach with other cleaning products
      • Animals must be removed from the area when bleach is used
      • Wear gloves when handling bleach, and use in a well-ventilated area
      • Once diluted, bleach loses efficacy after 24 hours
      • Wet contact time must be maintained on the surface for at least 10 minutes
      • Following disinfection, bleach should be rinsed off and surface dried before animal contact
    • potassium peroxymonosulfate (1% Virkon S, Trifectant)
    • substituted phenolics
  • Disinfect objects using one of the disinfectants above. Remember it must stay in contact with the item and remain wet for the required contact time of the disinfectant.
  • Know your sources of hay and feedand if they are near areas of any outbreaks.
  • Do not feed plants, grasses, or tree branches foraged from outside in areas where there is an outbreak.
  • Minimize insects in your home by installing window and door screens. Eliminate mosquitoes and flies from your home.
  • Use monthly flea treatment (Revolution or Advantage II are safe for rabbits. NEVER use Frontline on rabbits) for rabbits and cats and dogs, in an area with an outbreak, especially if any pets in the home go outside.
  • Keep cats indoors, so they can’t bring in the virus from outside.
  • Homes with dogs and rabbits: Keep dogs on-leash outside, so they don’t directly interact with wild rabbits (alive or deceased). Consider having your dog wear booties outside, or washing dogs’ paws when coming inside. Designate separate areas in your home for your dog and block dog access to areas where your rabbits live or exercise.
  • Quarantine any new rabbit for at least 14 days. Always handle quarantined rabbits last, and keep all supplies for them separate from your other rabbits’ supplies.
  • If you see a dead rabbit outside do not touch them. Contact state wildlife officials if it appears to be a wild rabbit. By reporting any dead rabbits seen outside, you will help protect domestic rabbits, as we will know where the disease is spreading.
And here is a flyer from the House Rabbit Societyscreenshot-RHDV.jpg
 

JBun

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Thanks for putting this together. Since it's such a frequently asked question right now and important info for any rabbit owner where this disease has been an issue for a while or is now becoming an issue, I've made it a sticky in health and wellness.
 

zuppa

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Thanks for putting this together. Since it's such a frequently asked question right now and important info for any rabbit owner where this disease has been an issue for a while or is now becoming an issue, I've made it a sticky in health and wellness.
Would that be possible to join all new virus related threads/discussions started recently with this thread keeping first post with main information on top?
 

JBun

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I'll see what I can do, though it may be easier to just post links here to those other threads.
 

Wenet

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I live in a residential area in Chandler, Arizona. Wenet is always kept indoors, but we it happens every now and then that we get a grasshopper, flies or mosquitoes inside (although the windows are closed!). Should I request a vaccine for Wenet? I am afraid that taking her to the vet would be more dangerous than not right now!
 

Blue eyes

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I live in a residential area in Chandler, Arizona. Wenet is always kept indoors, but we it happens every now and then that we get a grasshopper, flies or mosquitoes inside (although the windows are closed!). Should I request a vaccine for Wenet? I am afraid that taking her to the vet would be more dangerous than not right now!
According to the interactive map from AZ Dept of Agriculture website, there have been domestic (but not yet wild) rabbit cases in Maricopa County. You could call your vet and ask for recommendations.
 

Blue eyes

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Would that be possible to join all new virus related threads/discussions started recently with this thread keeping first post with main information on top?
I'll see what I can do, though it may be easier to just post links here to those other threads.
Here are those more recent threads...



 

Blue eyes

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And here's a link to statements from Sherwood and Oxbow for those concerned about hay or pellets coming from areas infected with RHDV2.

 
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Mehidk

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Shoot, I've been bringing my rabbit outside in my backyard for like two minutes lately, but she's in my arms the whole time. Guess this is the rabbit's version of the Rona! :(
 

Blue eyes

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Here's some more detail from the HRS website about the vaccines themselves (in the US)...

  • A vaccine is required annually to continue protection against RHDV.
  • Vaccination is expected to be effective for most rabbits – it may not prevent disease in 100% of cases, but if vaccinated, it helps rabbits survive if exposed to RHDV.
  • In veterinarian Dr. Frances Harcourt-Brown’s survey, some rabbits who died of RHDV (confirmed by PCR or histopathology) were reportedly current on a RHDV vaccine or had recently been vaccinated.
  • Biosecurity measures should be taken to protect rabbits, even after vaccination.
  • The two vaccines currently available for import to the US in 2020, Eravac (RHDV2) and Filavac (RHDV1 and RHDV2), are produced by infecting rabbits with RHDV in a laboratory and killing them to make liver-derived vaccines.
  • New in 2020: Nobiviac Myxo-RHD Plus is effective against RHDV1, RHDV2, and Myxomatosis, and is not produced in live animals, but in vitro (in a lab, in cell cultures). This vaccine is not currently eligible for import into the US because it contains a live Myxomatosis virus so would require evaluation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and because of export prohibitions by the manufacturer, MDS Animal Health, to the US and Canada.
and also...

  • The ERAVAC (Spain) and FILAVAC (France) vaccines are both given as one injection under the skin.
  • The onset of immunity for both is approximately one week after vaccination. The earliest ages the two vaccines can be given is 4 weeks for Eravac and 10 weeks for Filavac.
  • It is normal and common to have a temporary spike in body temperature after vaccination (the body making antibodies to the foreign virus that was injected).
  • Owners may also notice a nodule or lump at the vaccination site. The nodule is due to the rabbit’s body reaction to the substances that make up the injectable solution that carries the RHDV2 killed virus. The nodule is usually temporary and not life-threatening.
  • Please note that no vaccine can be considered 100% efficacious or that every rabbit that receives it will be guaranteed immunity to the disease. This is why biosecurity is vitally important as the first and most consistent method of protection.
 

Mehidk

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Thanks for the info @Blue eyes! Much appreciated. I had been wondering if or when I would be able to reach out to my vet about the vaccine for my bun.
 

nicolekline97

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I live in a residential area in Chandler, Arizona. Wenet is always kept indoors, but we it happens every now and then that we get a grasshopper, flies or mosquitoes inside (although the windows are closed!). Should I request a vaccine for Wenet? I am afraid that taking her to the vet would be more dangerous than not right now!
Do you have mobile vets in your area? It might be an option. You could also keep your rabbit in her carrier and ask she be kept in it and wipe it down. It would seem your rabbit would be low risk being inside.
 

RWAF

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Blue eyes

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LIST OF VETS IN THE US THAT MAY PROVIDE VACCINE FOR RHDV2


This link came from the facebook references provided by @RWAF

I called the one of two vets in AZ on the list. They said they've had the vaccine for just a month or two. It costs $45 for the vaccine but they require a wellness exam for an additional $65. They are recommending the vaccine be done every 9 months. However, they said, they are not positive they will be able to get more of the vaccine at that 9 month mark. If not, the next dose would be when they are able to get more in.
 
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