(ORDO NEWS) — A highly infectious and deadly virus spreads throughout the United States and threatens the rabbit population. Infected rabbits may not show any symptoms before sudden death, or they may suffer from fever, swelling, internal bleeding, and liver failure.
According to officials, the type 2 rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus is deadly for wild and domestic rabbits, but does not affect humans or pets other than rabbits.
RHDV2 is not associated with coronavirus and is distributed only among rabbits, hares and pikas – small mountain relatives of the rabbit.
This disease was discovered in rabbits in the western states, but quickly spread, and if not stopped, it could destroy wild rabbit populations.
“Unfortunately, we can also observe effects on species that depend on rabbits for food, since rabbits are common prey for many predators,” said Dina Clifford, senior wildlife veterinarian at CDFW.
The USFW has asked those who have encountered sick or dead rabbits to report this and be careful not to touch the corpses in order to minimize the spread of the virus, which is described as very hardy.
Hunters are also advised to take precautions.
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