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The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A UPDATE, please read: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Outbreak in North America

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    • DanaNM
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      Vaccine Update as of April 2, 2021:

      The virus continues to spread throughout North America, with many more cases this year so far (reaching as far north as Yellowstone National Park). There is work being done to produce an American-Made RHD/RHDV2 Vaccine. It is likely the virus will continue to spread rapidly throughout the spring, timed with wild rabbit reproduction and movement of insects and scavenging animals.
      North Americans RHDV2 (a Facebook Group) is currently working with a company to get an American-made RHDV vaccine. The admin for this group is collecting information for the company and your help is needed. The company wants to know how much interest there is in having the vaccine. There is currently a poll where you can specify how many bunnies you would be interested in vaccinating if an American-made vaccine were available (assume you could afford it). The poll can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/<wbr />groups/414749742307886/<wbr />permalink/1159060074543512/ (NOTE: This is a private Facebook Group. You will have to join the group in order to take the poll).
      Vaccine Background: RHDV vaccines are available in Europe. These vaccines are not approved for US use, but they can be imported by veterinarians with the approval of the USDA for emergency use only after the virus has been confirmed in your state. This is a problem because it doesn’t allow rabbit owners to get ahead of the disease, and requires vets to have to go through the time-consuming and expensive import process every year to keep the rabbit population vaccinated. International vaccine makers have also said it is unlikely that imported vaccines will be able to keep up with demand as the virus spreads further within the US (and across other areas of the world). This is why having an American-made vaccine is so important. Additionally, the vaccines that are currently available for import (Eravac and Filivac) require the use of live rabbits to create, which is an ethical concern. The company that is working to produce the US vaccine has said it will NOT require live rabbits to produce, so this would be a huge benefit.

       

      Previous info:

      As many may have heard, there is currently a rapidly spreading outbreak of RHDV2 in the southwestern US and Northern Mexico. There are links to detailed information from the House Rabbit Society at the bottom. Check with your local state departments of wildlife and agriculture, as well as your local rabbit organizations for information specific to your region. For those outside of the outbreak area, the main concern is contaminated feed. The short answer to this is that the virus can be transmitted through feed (hay, forage, veggies, etc.), but most hay is over a year old (Oxbow has something about this on their site), and the Binky Bunny store has confirmed that its suppliers are outside of the outbreak area and the hay, feed, etc. has been stored securely, so is safe to use. Overall hay is probably one of the least likely sources, but you should known your hay source any whether there is currently an outbreak in that area.

      I helped the rescue in my area put together this info for their newsletter, which is focused on southern California but should be helpful regardless:
      The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV2) was found in a dead rabbit in the Palm Springs area.  The RHDV2 virus has been spreading through the Southwest (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Northern Mexico) and has finally reached California.  Because it is in the wild rabbit population, we can assume that RHDV2 will become common in California. We recommend that you consider any changes you may need to make in light of RHD.

      RHD only infects rabbits and other members of the lagomorph family.  You, your family and other pets will not get this disease, but you can spread it inadvertently, so awareness is key.

      RHD is highly contagious and resistant to environmental conditions. It spreads through rabbit contact with a diseased rabbit’s fur, feces, urine, bedding, or direct contact. It also spreads via feces from other animals (scavenging predators, including birds) or insects that have had contact with a diseased rabbit, or contact with a contaminated surface or food. The virus can survive for at least 3 months in the carcass of a dead rabbit or dried on cloth. On other surfaces the virus may survive from 1 to 2 weeks, depending on conditions.  It is resistant to high temperatures (it can survive 1 hour at 122 degrees F) and to freezing.

      Rabbits housed outdoors are at the highest risk. Even if no wild rabbits are in your area, insects (especially flies) are able to transmit the virus. A single fly speck can contain enough virus to infect a rabbit. There is no treatment for this virus and mortality rates are very high, so prevention is crucial.

      Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, bleeding, loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, jaundice, seizures, and sudden death. Most rabbits die within hours to days after exposure, while asymptomatic carriers can shed virus for over a month. The virus impairs the blood’s ability to clot, and death is most often caused by liver failure, or internal or external bleeding. Any sudden death should be suspected as RHDV at this point.

      There are vaccines in England and Europe for RHD. While the vaccines are not available in the US, they can be imported by veterinarians with the approval of the USDA and the State of California. Please contact your vet to discuss importing the vaccine. There is more information on this process in the HRS links below.

      The good news is that the precautions that reduce the chance of myxomatosis will also reduce the chance of RHD.  Here are things you can do to reduce the risk to your rabbit and help slow the spread of this disease in our wild and domestic rabbits:

      1. If you find a sick or dead rabbit, do not handle or move it. Call you local wildlife authority and state department of agriculture to report and find out what to do.
      2. Housing your rabbit indoors is the single most important step you can take to protect your rabbit from this disease. If you cannot do that, then screen outdoor hutches to keep flies and other insects away from your rabbit. Exercise your rabbit indoors. If you cannot do that limit outdoor time and use fly prevention.
      3. Remove your shoes when entering your home, and wash your hands before and after handling your rabbit.
      4. Ask your vet about external parasite control. Vectra3D protects against flies and mosquitos and can be dosed correctly by your vet (this is off-label use and must be administered by a vet to ensure the safety of the rabbit). Never use Frontline on rabbits.
      5. Avoid contact with other rabbits. If you have friends with rabbits, or visit an area with wild rabbits, change your clothes and shoes after visiting their homes.  Wash your clothes in hot water and dry on high.  Let your shoes sit for several days to 2 weeks in areas away from your rabbit.
      6. If you have a dog or a cat, avoid situations where they may come into contact with a wild bunny or dead wild rabbit; leashes outdoors are recommended.  You may want to wash your dogs paws when they enter the house.
      7. Tell your vet if you want to vaccinate your rabbit. HRS website provides info to help your vet import the vaccine.
      8. Stop foraging for wild greens if you are near an outbreak area and know the source of your feed. The rates of infection through food are not known, but contaminated feed has been suspected in cases where rabbits housed indoors in urban environments got sick.

      Here are some resources for additional information:

      Map of confirmed cases: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?fbclid=IwAR27ZBZ1KjbXa-tuBa7QvoeVXPSWBSC3ECn2kYYAnEQpA4-4MnYAqWDvsyw&mid=1OPrtnwm1Bk-CmjW3pPCpzEw1sv2S_OPC&ll=39.06356966942756%2C-107.75364545&z=4

      Detailed info from the House Rabbit Society: https://rabbit.org/rhdv/
      Handout that can be shared: https://rabbit.org/articles/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/hrs_rhdv_v5.pdf
      CA Dept of Food and Agriculture:
      https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/ahfss/Animal_Health/pdfs/RabbitHemorrhagicDisease.pdf

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • pinkiemarie
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      Ugh. So on the topic of feed, if it’s all over a year old now then great but what about later this summer? The disease will definitely spread more and more and it never occurred to me that the hay could be infected, so what do we do if and when this becomes endemic? Maybe an American company will begin making vaccines? How the vaccine itself is produced is so sad but evidently it can’t be done another way. You seem very in the know and if you hear more please keep us updated!


    • DanaNM
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      Not sure what state you are in, but the best thing you can do is contact your vet to see about importing the vaccine (there are guidelines on this on the HRS site). If you are in a state that hasn’t had any cases, you won’t be able to get it yet, but states with cases can.

      There is very little data on how likely hay is to be a source of transmission. I think the fear is that a sick rabbit might get into a hay barn, or sick rabbits could be in the hay field. It is best to communicate with your supplier to see where they are and how old the hay is. In MOST conditions, the virus will not survive more than 3 months, so in general hay is probably one of the lowest risk sources of transmission.

      There is a survey by Dr. Francis Harcourt-Brown of confirmed RHDV cases (https://www.harcourt-brown.co.uk/surveys/results-of-origin-of-rhd-infection/origin-of-rhdv-infection-in-domestic-rabbits), and about 80% of the cases had outdoor access. Since all rabbits get hay, it’s hard to tell what the risk is from hay, but it seems like if hay was the source there would be far more indoor cases.

      Knowing where the hay is grown and whether there is active outbreak in the area is really all you can do.

      There is another vaccine that is produced in vitro (so more ethically), but will not likely be approved for use in the US anytime soon because it contains live-weaked Myxo (which is not endemic most of the US, so they don’t want to risk introducing it). But bringing this vaccine up to vets etc. might help make it available.

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • Meg
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      Yikes!!  I just read this and am worried about greens.  We’re in Maryland but basically all the greens you can buy at the store are from California, Arizona, or Mexico.  What are you all doing for this?  I can’t go to local markets due to COVID (we get groceries delivered instead) and don’t have the acres of farmland it would take to feed our bunny every day.


    • DanaNM
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      I’ve been sourcing locally, which for me is getting sketchy as the virus is now about 160 miles from us. If it gets any closer I will prob stop feeding greens until we get the vaccine (should be within a few weeks, woohoo!).

      If you can confirm your greens are sourced from Northern CA you should be OK.  A lot of lettuces and greens are grown in the Salinas valley, which is in the safe zone for now.

      A lot of folks I see are growing some things indoors using Aerogardens for their bunnies. Certainly would be able to be the full amount most of us feed, but enough to give them a little. Veggies are nice, but not absolutely essential, as hay is really the most important thing.

      Sorry I don’t have a great answer. 🙁 Knowing the specific growing location is really the only thing I can recommend.

       

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • Meg
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      Thank you so much, DanaNM!  I did find that Organic Girl romaine is from Salinas at least these days.  I found a House Rabbit Society newsletter that recommends a lot of the same things you said (checking the source, trying to grow indoors), and also says this:

      “Right now, we are recommending rabbit guardians wash vegetables thoroughly in a bowl for at least two minutes, changing the water several times.

      Before making significant changes to your rabbit’s diet, such as deciding to eliminate feeding greens, talk with your veterinarian first.”

      Thank you again and may all our bunnies stay healthy!


    • Moonlightbunny66
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      I live in Canada. Do I need to be concerned about my rabbits getting this?


    • DanaNM
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      @Moonlightbunny Probably not at this time, but it’s something to keep an eye on, and if you feed veggies grown in CA or Mexico that should be taken into account. Since it has become established in wild rabbits in the US it will likely end up in Canada eventually, but in Australia it spread a lot more rapidly in arid regions, so it’s unclear how long it will take to get there. There were cases in Vancouver area late last year, but that spread seems to have stopped. This map shows most of the confirmed cases, you can click on each point to see when the case occurred: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?fbclid=IwAR27ZBZ1KjbXa-tuBa7QvoeVXPSWBSC3ECn2kYYAnEQpA4-4MnYAqWDvsyw&mid=1OPrtnwm1Bk-CmjW3pPCpzEw1sv2S_OPC&ll=39.06356966942756%2C-107.75364545&z=4

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • DanaNM
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      Wanted to give a little update, this release from the Oregon Department of Agriculture mentions that:

      “Currently, a US manufacturer is working with a University to develop a domestic, FDA approved, new-generation vaccine for RHDV. The vaccine would not require the use of live rabbits for vaccine production and could be scaled up much easier. Once the product is approved, anyone will be able to access the vaccine without special federal or state permission. A domestic vaccine may be available as soon as November 2020. ”

      This is not soon enough for those of us in the outbreak area, but is very good news for the rest of the country, and great news for ongoing boosters in years to come. Also AMAZING that they are working on the humanely produced version!

      Here’s the full text:

      https://www.oregon.gov/oda/shared/Documents/Publications/AnimalHealth/RHDVFAQ.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2xDZvMZdPKoCINZtWFmlOPh374LjGvEkxYWNjFpCjrap4ufcG1GhSSckA

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • Moonlightbunny66
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      @dananm Thank you so much! Where is a safe place to buy my veggies from? My mom has a garden that she said I can use the lettuce and kale for my rabbits. We do have a lot of wild rabbits here and they come and eat from the garden. I live in Ontario Canada so this should be okay, right? The garden won’t last forever though. And that’s good that they’re working on a vaccine. I feel so bad for all the bunnies and bunny owners who were affected by this. ):


    • Moonlightbunny66
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      Also can I still buy hay from the farm feed store here? Thanks.


    • DanaNM
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      Hay and pelleted food are very likely to be safe (and of course our bunnies NEED hay!). Technically they could be contaminated, but it’s very unlikely. Plus they are stored dry for long periods of time so that increases safety too. Oxbow has a statement up on their website about the safety of their products, and the Binky Bunny store has confirmed that all their suppliers are in safe areas.

      A home garden would be great. 🙂 Other than that, most people are looking to get produce grown from anywhere outside the outbreak area (150 miles outside the outermost confirmed cases to be safe). The farther you are from where things are grown the harder it is to know exactly where it was grown, but Northern CA is currently safe, Souther CA is not. I wouldn’t get anything grown in Mexico.

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • Moonlightbunny66
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      Thank you for helping me!!


    • DanaNM
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      You’re very welcome! 🙂

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • Bernard2020
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      I bought some romaine lettuce and gave some to my rabbit yesterday. Today I just seen it was grown in North MX. Should I be worried?


    • Bernard2020
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      It’s Green Giant  and it says they wash it, trim it,  and it’s ready to eat. I also washed it before I gave it to her. It said it was picked after 7/29/2020. I tried calling to get the exact city but due to covid they aren’t taking calls so I emailed them. I’m really worried, I thought it said it was grown in Salinas CA but it’s just distributed there. I gave it to her about 24 hours ago and so far she’s acting normal. Do you think she will be ok?


    • Moonlightbunny66
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      I just looked to see where my lettuce was grown. The brand is Andy Boy, it says it’s grown in Salinas California. This doesn’t look infected on the map. It’s okay to feed them? I can’t find where my carrots were grown the brand is “Farmers Market”, I just tried emailing. What a vague name…


    • DanaNM
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      @Bernard2020 , I would stop feeding that veg. Chances are it will be fine, but that is in the outbreak area. The risk from veggies is really not known, but since the virus is so resistant and “sticky”, it’s safest to just avoid veg from outbreak areas until your bun can be vaccinated.


      @Moonlightbunny
      Salinas CA is in a safe part of the state, so that should be fine.

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • Moonlightbunny66
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      @DanaNM Thank you so much. I have bad anxiety, I wanna make sure the buns are safe.


    • Bernard2020
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      @DanaNM Phew! Thank you for easing my nerves 😁


    • Desert_Bunny
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      I got my bunny vaccinated about a month ago. Hopefully he is safe now.


    • DanaNM
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      That’s great! Yes he should be good for a year until he’s due for his booster. 🙂 I got mine done a few weeks ago and it was SUCH a huge relief.

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • Desert_Bunny
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      Yes especially because I am out in the desert a lot and don’t want to bring anything like that back home.  I thought this was cute

       


    • Winniebun
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      Do I have anything to be worried about in NC?


    • Winniebun
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      Also my first rabbit that lived outside died last summer is there any chance she got this disease? If not I have no idea why she dies she was only 2 years old and I took great care of her?!


    • DanaNM
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      It hasn’t been documented in NC yet, so at this time no. But it will likely spread throughout the US, so it’s something to pay attention to. Hopefully in the next year the vaccine will become more easily available from your vet. Currently vets can only get approval to import the vaccine if there is a documented case in your state.

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • pinkiemarie
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      Hi everyone! I have a petition going for access to vaccines in North America and would appreciate signatures. With the new administration dealing with Covid I’m sure RHD is not the first thing being brought to their attention. I’ve already emailed the White House and reminded my senator but am hoping to get more signatures before I close this. Please share if you can!

      https://www.change.org/bunnyvaccine

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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A UPDATE, please read: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Outbreak in North America