Deadly, highly contagious rabbit virus found in Minnesota


Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus 2 was first detected in this condition and caused the sudden death of 2 rabbits.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health recently announced that the deadly and highly contagious rabbit disease, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2), was first detected in the state this month, causing the death of 2 Ramsey County rabbits.1 Samples taken from the bodies and sent to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories validated that they had RHDV2.

The RHDV2 virus affects both domestic and wild rabbits and poses no threat to humans or any other known species.1 According to Greg Suskovic, DVM, who heads the State Animal Health Council’s Exotic Animal Disease Investigation Unit, the cause of these cases is currently under investigation.

“Rabbit owners should contact their veterinarian if their pet unexpectedly dies or exhibits any of the signs compatible with RHDV2,” Suskovic revealed. “Veterinarians should report suspected cases to the Council. “

Characteristic signs of rabbits infected with the virus include lethargy or unwillingness to move, and they usually die between a day and a week after contracting it.1 After death, bodies may have blood coming from the nostrils and mouth.

RHDV2 is spread by direct contact with infected rabbits or by contact with contaminated blood, urine or feces. It can survive on clothing, shoes, surfaces, as well as inside cages, surviving in food, water and bedding.1

The virus is resistant to extreme temperatures and can live up to 15 weeks in dry conditions.1 Experts suggest using a high pH solution to inactivate RHDV2 when disinfecting surfaces.

There is currently no RHDV2 vaccine approved for use in Minnesota, although there are vaccines for the disease in Europe. Authorities have announced that a South Dakota company is working to develop a recombinant-technology vaccine, similar to those created by Pfizer and Moderna to prevent COVID-19.

The Animal Health Council plans to discuss South Dakota’s vaccine approval at its December meeting.

To learn more about the RHDV2 cases in Minnesota, click here.


  1. Fatal and highly contagious rabbit disease detected in Minnesota. CBS Minnesota. Posted September 28, 2021. Updated September 29, 2021. Accessed September 30, 2021. Minnesota/

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