Rabbit in Hill Country found with highly contagious disease that causes sudden death

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 has been found in Gillespie County

Cottontail rabbit. (Image by FoxTerrier from Pixabay)

SAN ANTONIO – The deadly Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 has moved eastward in Texas and was detected for the first time in the Hill Country.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said Tuesday that it found a wild case of RHDV2 in Gillespie County. The disease was previously detected in El Paso, Terrell, Brewster and Reeves counties in West Texas.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease is a highly contagious virus for both domestic and wild rabbits, including hares, jackrabbits and cottontails. Its two strains, RHDV1 and RHDV2, have been reported in North America.

The disease causes sudden death and in less severe cases, rabbits can show dullness, loss of appetite, watery or congested eyes, and bleeding from the nose and eyes.

The virus is not known to affect humans or other animals. However, pets should not eat the carcasses of infected animals.

It easily spreads through direct contact with infected rabbits, carcasses and contaminated objects.

“RHDV2 is resistant to desiccation and can persist in the environment for a very long time,” TPWD said in a news release. “These factors make disease control efforts extremely challenging once it is in wild rabbit populations.”

If you suspect a sick or dead rabbit has contracted the disease, contact a local TPWD biologist or a veterinarian. Unusual mass sickness or mortality events among rabbits should be reported to the Texas Animal Health Commission.

WATCH: Texas fishing guide catches 8th heaviest largemouth bass in state history

Read also:

About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

Recommended Videos