HONOLULU (KHON2) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture have confirmed rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV2) in a 4- to 5-year-old neutered male rabbit on a farm in Kula, Maui. This is the first confirmed detection of the disease in Hawai`i.
The disease is fatal to rabbits, but cannot be transmitted from animals to humans and does not impact human health.
On June 14, HDOA’s Animal Industry Division received notice that nine out of 12 rabbits had died on a Maui farm. A hold order was immediately issued to prevent movement of rabbits and associated cages and materials on and off the farm.
On June 17, 2022, HDOA received confirmation of RHDV2 infection in the one rabbit tested from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory and a formal quarantine order on the premises was issued by HDOA. The duration of the quarantine is expected to be 120 days after premise cleaning and disinfection are completed. The outbreak is not expected to spread.
RHDV2 is a highly contagious viral disease and is categorized as a foreign animal disease and requires detections be reported to the USDA and the World Organization for Animal Health.
The virus can be spread through direct contact between affected rabbits and indirectly by contaminated inanimate objects. RHDV2 does not infect species other than rabbits and hares, but humans, dogs, rodents, and insects may spread the virus via external contamination.
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The only signs of the disease are sudden death and blood-stained noses caused by internal bleeding. Infected rabbits may also develop a fever, be hesitant to eat, or show respiratory or nervous signs.
The cause of this outbreak remains under investigation. No rabbits imported into the state have been associated with this outbreak.
Rabbits entering the state are required to be issued a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection within 72 hours of arrival, are inspected by HDOA livestock inspectors and are placed on a post-entry quarantine for 30 days.
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Rabbit owners should discuss the need for vaccination of their rabbits for RHDV2 with their veterinarians.
Protect your rabbits by practicing good biosecurity by taking daily steps to keep the virus away from your animals. The USDA recommends to:
• Do not allow other rabbits to contact your rabbits or gain entry to the farm 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 before leaving the rabbit area.
• Do not introduce new rabbits from unknown or untrusted sources.
Any owners or veterinarians experiencing unusual losses of rabbits should contact the HDOA’s Animal Industry Division at (808) 483-7100 or (808) 837-8092.
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More information on RHDV2 may be found at the USDA website.