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This Winter: Texas Experienced First Diagnosis of Highly Contagious Rabbit Sickness, Results in Rapid Deaths

This winter, 3 rabbits in Texas have been found to have the second strain of the virus causing rabbit hemorrhagic disease.

In El Paso County, two desert cottontail rabbits and one black-tailed jackrabbit tested positive for the illness, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The RHDV2 virus, which causes rabbit hemorrhagic disease, is very contagious to both wild and domestic rabbits.

In milder cases, rabbits may develop dullness, loss of hunger, watery or swollen eyes, bleeding from the nose and eyes, and eyes that are red and swollen. It results in sudden death.

RHD, which has 2 strains, has been identified in various West Texas counties over the past few years and has been recognized throughout North America.

Pets shouldn’t consume the bodies of sick animals because RHD has not been proven to damage humans, pets, or livestock.

According to a TPWD press release, this extremely contagious disease spreads amongst rabbits by contact with diseased carcasses, flesh, fur, polluted food or water, or items coming into contact with them. RHDV2 can survive for a very long time in the environment. These elements make disease control extremely difficult once it affects populations of wild rabbits.

Contact a local TPWD biologist or a veterinary if you think a sick or dead rabbit has the illness. Report any unusual mass illness or death incidents involving rabbits to the Texas Animal Health Commission.

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