Ebola-Like Disease Killing Wild Rabbits Across SoCal

KNX 1070
July 08, 2020 - 4:43 pm

It's called  Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease but think of it as rabbit ebola.

It won't affect people, pets or any other species but it has the potential to wipe out some rabbit species. And it's a painful and horrible death.

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According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife "On May 11, 2020, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus serotype-2 (RHDV2) was confirmed in a wild black-tailed jackrabbit collected from an area where over 10 dead jackrabbits were found near Palm Springs, Riverside county."

According to the department, the disease poses no risk to humans or other animals, is spread through contact between infected rabbits, their meat or fur, respiratory fluids, urine, feces, contaminated soil or materials in contact with those items. The disease can be easily spread to new areas by moving rabbits or contaminated items, and on shoes or clothing. The disease may also be spread by insects and scavengers after contact with sick or dead rabbits.

The disease has been confirmed in the following counties, according to the department: 



San Bernardino

San Diego

Emma Lantz, a veterinarian California Department of Fish and Wildlife says "we know that rabbits and hares are significantly affected by this virus but this is the first time we are really monitoring pika as well. Probably looking at more effects on something like bobcats or other species that have limited prey basis."

Pika are small mammals related to rabbits and found in the mountains. The rabbits are also a main food source for predators.

"To date, RHDV2 has only been detected in domestic rabbits, wild cottontails, and jackrabbits, but all lagomorph species (including pikas) may be susceptible," the department website says.

Anyone hiking who sees two or more dead rabbits are urged to report it so wildlife officials can track the disease: wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Laboratories/Wildlife-Investigations/Monitoring/Mortality-Report