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Deadly Disease for Rabbits Shows up in Kansas

By Laura McMillan


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A local nonprofit organization is warning rabbit owners about a disease that has shown up in Kansas for the first time.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus Type 2 (RHDV2) was found in a pet rabbit in Leavenworth County earlier this month. The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) says the disease is highly contagious and is fatal to rabbits.

The KDA said it only affects rabbits. It does not impact human health. A spokesperson said the KDA has worked with extension agents and veterinarians in the Leavenworth County area to let them know there has been a case of RHDV2.

In Wichita, Bunny Training, Nurturing & Therapy (TNT) sent KSN a news release about the case. Bunny TNT is a nonprofit rabbit shelter that finds homes for abandoned rabbits. It also educates the public about proper rabbit care.

It says rabbits show few symptoms of RHDV2. Many times the only sign is sudden death with a blood-stained nose caused by internal bleeding. However, the KDA said infected rabbits might develop a fever, be hesitant to eat or show respiratory or nervous signs.

Bunny TNT said Wichita-area veterinarians are “scrambling to get the vaccine, and anyone who has a pet rabbit needs to get it vaccinated.”

So far, the KDA lists Gupton’s House Vet Clinic as the only place in Wichita that has the vaccine against RHDV2. It also lists the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center in Manhattan, University Veterinary Care Center, P.A. in Topeka, and Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center in Lenexa.

A spokesperson at Bunny TNT said the vaccination series requires two doses and a booster dose each year. She said they are working on getting all of their rabbits vaccinated, but money is an issue. Click this link if you would like to help.

The KDA suggests rabbit owners wash their hands before and after working with rabbits and not share equipment with other rabbit owners.

The House Rabbit Society (HRS) website said animals typically become infected when they come into contact with the body fluids of infected animals. For example, a dog or a person walking through grass could carry it into the house on their feet, putting indoor rabbits at risk. Therefore, HRS recommends that rabbit owners adopt a “no shoes” policy in the home.

For more information, visit these websites: