Today we were notified of a small occurrence (25 rabbits) of Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (RVHD) in Pine County, MINNESOTA. All rabbits on the premises have died or been euthanized, and at this time there is no further known spread. However, as this 'index premises' was one which collected rabbits from multiple sources, we do not know the initial source of the disease.
Should you panic? NO! While frightening in its tenacity and ease of transmission, this disease can be managed and limited in spread by common precautions. It should never be treated lightly or disregarded.
We STRONGLY encourage those in Minnesota and the surrounding area to think carefully about any unexplained deaths in their herds and to take the appropriate steps for accurate diagnosis should symptoms and signs indicate any possibility of RVHD. If you have any doubts, contact your State Veterinarian for assistance-- or contact the Rabbit Industry Council at 530-534-7390 or email: RIC@cncnet.com
We also STRONGLY encourage all shows and exhibitors to use an appropriate disinfectant (see below) on all coops, carpets, and equipment. If you are uncertain of your herd health status, please stay home until you get it straightened out.
A PDF with all this information is available at
While the document is not yet updated to the current outbreak as yet (pending further, more detailed information) , it is accurate and highly useful regarding prevention, management, and reporting of this deadly disease.
*****CURRENT OUTBREAK INFORMATION* ****
On 4-22-10, a report was made to the OIE which noted that beginning in early February of 2010, rabbits at a facility in PINE COUNTY, MINNESOTA which collected rabbits for use as food at a wildlife rehabilitation center began to die at a startling rate, with 20 dying initially. This was thought to be due to feed contamination, but as further rabbits brought onto the property also died rapidly without clinical disease, a sample was submitted to a private laboratory for analysis.
WE CANNOT PRAISE THIS FACILITY ENOUGH FOR TAKING THIS STEP! It is vital that we all investigate unexpected deaths, especially multiple deaths, with diligence and care.
The sample was suspected to be positive for RVHD and further testing was done by the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and found to be definitively positive on enzyme-linked immunoassay testing for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus. The property was then thoroughly decontaminated and any remaining rabbits euthanized. Free ranging rabbits in the area are being trapped and surveilled for signs of the disease. (While native species are not susceptible, it is not known if there are feral domestics in the area.)
As of this point in time, this is the limited information we have. We're working on re-establishing contacts within USDA/APHIS to be able to bring you more and more detailed information as soon as possible.
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*****RVHD IMPORTANT INFORMATION* *****
Symptoms and Forms of the Disease:
The disease seems to appear in three ways; the first and most common is called PERACUTE and is simply a dead rabbit in the cage from one visit to the next.
The ACUTE form is represented by a lethargic, depressed, off-feed animal that dies in the space of 1-2 days, shows incoordination and signs of pain before death, and may show clear or bloodstained nasal froth or discharge. A temperature of 105-106 degrees F may be present upon initial examination.
A small number (<5%)>