PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A highly contagious and deadly virus that can spread quickly among rabbits was detected in Multnomah County, the Oregon Department of Agriculture said Monday.
After seven of 21 rabbits on a Multnomah County property died over a 72-hour period, Oregon State University’s veterinary department investigated and determined they’d fallen ill with rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2).
The virus is not dangerous to humans and is only known to infect rabbits and hares. It spreads through direct contact between infected and susceptible live rabbits or by exposure to contaminated materials.
The owners of the rabbits that died from the virus in Multnomah County said they were exposed to wild rabbits in the area.
The property is currently under quarantine because the virus is resistant to extreme temperatures and can survive in the environment for months under certain conditions.
Birds, rodents, flies, predators and scavengers can spread the virus on their feet, fur and feathers or through their feces without becoming infected themselves.
Anyone raising domestic rabbits should minimize their exposure to wild rabbits by keeping them in hutches or cages that are elevated off the ground. Owners should keep rabbits inside to avoid exposure to environments that have potentially been contaminated by the disease.
The ODA recommends people shower and change their clothes before handling their rabbits if they visit a show or fair where rabbits were commingled
Any hunters who come across sick or dead rabbits should not hunt or run their dogs in the area. Dead or sick rabbits should be reported to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife by calling (866) 968-2600. People should avoid hunting in areas where RHDV2 outbreaks have been documented.
After handling wild rabbits, hunters should wash their hands and change their clothes and shoes before handing domestic rabbits.
All game should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165.
All rabbit mortalities should be reported to the Oregon Department of Agriculture to help track the virus’ presence. Call 1-800-347-7028 or go online to report any domestic rabbits you suspect may have died from RHDV2.