TPWD officials confirm first case of deadly rabbit virus of 2021

The disease was found in a wild black-tailed jackrabbit in Cottle County

Image courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials have confirmed the first 2021 case of a deadly rabbit virus.

Officials say that Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus 2, or RHDV2, was diagnosed in a wild black-tailed jackrabbit in Cottle County.

Previously, the virus had been detected in domestic rabbits in Tom Green County, which was announced in a recent Texas Animal Health Commission news release.

Officials say the disease has been known to survive on the landscape for more than 120 days and can withstand freezing temperatures.

The department said the virus has been confirmed in the wild rabbit population of Brewster, Cottle, Culberson, El Paso, Gaines, Hale, Hockley, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Lubbock, Pecos, Presidio, Randall, Terrell, and Ward counties.

Officials say the disease is not known to affect humans, livestock or pets other than rabbits. However, pets, such as hunting dogs should not be allowed to consume dead animal carcasses.

“Often the only clinical sign is sudden death. In less acute cases, clinical signs in rabbits have included the following: dullness/apathy, not eating, bleeding from the nose and eyes or watery, congested eyes,” TPW officials said in a statement. “Some may also exhibit neurological signs such as incoordination, excitement or seizure-like episodes.”

Additionally, officials say hunters can minimize the spread of the disease by reducing the movement of biological materials and carcasses across Texas and thoroughly cleaning coolers containing rabbits with a 10% bleach solution after use.

More information on RHD can be found on the USDA and TPWD websites. Reports of dead rabbits should be made to a local biologist in the county in which they were found. Biologist contact information can be found on the TPWD website.

Also on KSAT:

TPWD commission approves hunting regulation changes for 2021-22 seasons

At least 3.8 million fish on Texas coast killed by winter storm, TPWD says

If you see a dead rabbit, TPWD officials are asking you to report it to help prevent a deadly disease

About the Author:

Jakob Rodriguez is a digital journalist at KSAT 12. He's a graduate of Texas State University, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper, The University Star.