Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Detected in Jim Wells County

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AUSTIN – Based on results from the National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) in Madison, Wisc., Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has confirmed the presence of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) in a Jim Wells County black-tailed jackrabbit.

This marks the 38th county in the state to have a confirmed wild detection since March 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The number and broad geographic distribution of these detections means researchers consider RHDV2 endemic (widespread) in Texas.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is a highly contagious viral disease that can affect both domestic and wild rabbit species including hares, jackrabbits and cottontails. RHDV2 appears only to affect rabbit species (lagomorphs). It is not known to affect humans, livestock or pets. However, pets should not be allowed to consume dead animal carcasses.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 is nearly always fatal and affects rabbits of all ages. Domestic rabbit owners should practice proper biosecurity protocols and can reach out to their veterinarian to discuss vaccination.

Clinical signs of RHDV2 can include dullness/lethargy, lack of appetite, bleeding from the nose and eyes or watery, congested eyes, however most affected rabbits are commonly found deceased.

RHDV2 can persist on rabbit carcasses after death for many months. As such, TPWD recommends hunters move the least amount of biological material as possible from a harvest location. Hunters that transport rabbits home for consumption should discard any parts from harvested rabbits in a dumpster destined for a landfill.

TPWD continues to receive and respond to mortality events in wild rabbits and hares across the state. If you notice sick or dead wild rabbits, contact a local TPWD wildlife biologist. Learn more about RHDV2 in wild rabbits on the RHDV page of the TPWD website.