Disease fatal to rabbits found in La Crosse County

The disease does not affect humans

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — A disease fatal to rabbits has been detected in La Crosse County, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The disease — Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 2 (RHDV2) — is highly contagious and causes sudden death from internal bleeding. RHDV2 has been detected in three domestic rabbits in La Crosse County. These are the first cases in the state.

RHDV2 affects both wild and domestic rabbits. It does not affect humans. Rabbits infected with the virus experience fever, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing or seizures.

Rabbit owners can reduce the risk of disease introduction by taking precautions when moving them to fairs/shows, buying equipment, handling rabbits that aren’t their own, introducing new rabbits to their household, and when keeping their animals outdoors. Wisconsin has a vaccine authorized for use against RHDV2 available through veterinarians.

Even with vaccine use, DATCP recommends that anyone working with or caring for rabbits follow biosecurity guidelines to prevent spread of the disease.

Rabbit owners are asked to contact their veterinarians if their animals appear sick. To report multiple dead wild rabbits, contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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