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Rabbit Advocates is closely following developments. *DO NOT TOUCH RABBIT BODIES* Call 1-800-347-7028 or visit https://oda.direct/RHD if you find a deceased rabbit (wild or domestic) or suspect potential RHDV. Visit Rabbit Advocates RHDV Resource Page for more information.
 
Oregon Department of Agriculture

                                       News Release: April 14, 2021

Deadly virus now confirmed in feral domestic rabbits in La Pine; concern grows for Oregon’s wild rabbit population

The Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has confirmed rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) in a feral domestic rabbit collected in La Pine, Oregon, on April 9, 2021. While the virus is highly contagious among rabbit populations and can spread through contact with infected rabbits, it poses no human health risk. The virus is only known to infects rabbits and hares. 

This confirmation comes a few weeks after the same virus, RHDV2, was found in a feral domestic rabbit found dead in Milwaukie, a suburb of Portland.

RHD is a viral disease that causes sudden death in rabbits. It is resistant to extreme temperatures and can survive in the environment for months under certain conditions. The virus spreads through direct contact between infected and susceptible live rabbits or exposure to contaminated materials (carcasses, pelts, food, water, forage, etc.). Birds, rodents, flies, predators, and scavengers can spread this virus via their feet, fur/feathers, or feces without becoming infected themselves. People can spread the virus indirectly by carrying it on their clothing, hands, and shoes.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is asking the public to voluntarily stop the transport of rabbits at this time. The releasing of a pet or domestically raised rabbit and allowing them to wander uncaged in neighborhoods or in the wild is unlawful (ORS 498.0520) and could further spread disease to wild rabbits and significantly impact wildlife rabbit and hare populations. Oregon is unique in the diversity of rabbit and hare species and habitats these populations occupy (https://myodfw.com/wildlife-viewing/species/pikas-rabbits-and-hares). However, 3 species are particularly vulnerable populations and are identified as Oregon Conservation Strategy Species.

Please report rabbit mortalities to track the virus's presence and movement. Call 1-800-347-7028 or visit https://oda.direct/RHD to report domestic or wild rabbits suspected to have died from RHDV2.

Following are tips to avoid spreading the RHD virus:

For those raising domestic rabbits (also talk to your veterinarian for advice):

  • Minimize exposure to wild rabbits and hares by keeping your rabbits in hutches or cages that are elevated off the ground.
  • Keep pet rabbits inside to avoid exposure to environments potentially contaminated by wild/feral rabbits or by people, vehicles, or implements that can spread the disease.
  • Do not allow your rabbits to graze or roam in a yard if wild rabbits are present in your area.
  • Restrict visitors to your rabbitry and limit the handling of the animals by visitors.
  • Avoid transporting or importing domestic rabbits.
  • After visiting a show, fair, or meeting where rabbits were comingled, shower and change clothes before handling your rabbits.
  • Quarantine new rabbits away from existing ones for 30 days.
  • Know the health status of the rabbitry from which you purchase rabbits.
  • Keep dogs, coyotes, insects, birds, rodents, and other animals away from your rabbits, as they may carry disease.
  • Be aware of the state's rabbit disease status or country of origin of any equipment or supplies you are purchasing.
  • Wash and disinfect hands, clothing, gloves, footwear, cages, and equipment between rabbits from different sources. (RHDV is inactivated by 10% bleach to water solution.)
  • Immediately contact ODA (800-347-7028) if you suspect RHD or have sick or freshly dead rabbits.

Contact

Andrea Cantu-Schomus, ODA, 503-881-9049, acantuschomus@state.or.us

Michelle Dennehy, ODFW, 503-931-2748, Michelle.N.Dennehy@state.or.us


ODA News Blog

Q: Is there a vaccine available in Oregon or Washington?

A: Currently the RHDV vaccine is not yet available in Oregon. Several Oregon veterinarians have applied through the state and USDA to import the vaccine from Europe. Unfortunately the process can reportedly take up to 4 months. However, there are currently opportunities for Washington residents to obtain vaccinations in Washington State. 

From The Rabbit Advocates Hay Team 

The RA Hay Team remains committed to providing nutritious, locally grown hay that is safe for bunnies. With the appearance of the Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) in Oregon, additional protocols have been implemented by the Hay Team.

  • It is not enough to ensure that your bunny remains indoors to protect against RHDV2 infection. Wild animals such as raccoons, field mice and rats, birds, flies and mosquitos, the family cat and dog, and even household members can bring RHDV2 into the home on clothing and shoes.

  • Active RHDV2 has been detected on dry cloth at room temperature for 90 days and as long as 105 days in a laboratory setting.

  • RA stores all of its hay in a clean, secure, dry warehouse. All of the hay currently in the warehouse and marketplace is from the 2020 harvest season and has been stored for longer than 105 days. The 2021 hay harvest will begin around May and continue until July.  

  • 2020 harvest hay will be packaged in boxes and safely stored off-site for distribution. The warehouse will be filled with season 2021 hay and stored for 90 days before packing. The boxes will be date stamped and held for an additional 2 weeks before distribution.

  • Other hay sellers wait 90 days before selling their hay, while others limit packing to hay acquired in areas where no “official” reports of RHDV2 have been reported.  

  • Hay packing volunteers will be asked to wear disposable shoe covers when in the warehouse, as well as freshly laundered clothes that have not come into contact with rabbits and other household pets. (Shoe covers will be provided.)

We always need volunteers! Hay packing occurs twice per week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Individuals can join household member groups if they have received a COVID-19 vaccine. If you can’t pack hay but, have a truck or van, consider joining the hay delivery team. For more information, contact Hay Packing Coordinator Kris Newmann at: kris.newmann@rabbitadvocates.org.

Buy Hay
Other Useful RHDV2 Resources:
RHDV-2 FAQ
ODA's Biosecurity Guide
USDA Cleaning Guidance for RHDV2


 
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About the Rabbit Advocates Newsletter

The newsletter contains the latest and greatest updates on Rabbit Advocates, as well as important information on issues concerning domestic rabbits in the Greater Portland and Vancouver Areas. 

The newsletter is prepared by the Rabbit Advocates Communications Team in partnership with the Board of Directors. Submit your newsletter ideas to communications@rabbitadvocates.org
 
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