Conn. (WTNH) — Rabbit owners should be on the lookout for a new disease confirmed by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAG) in Hartford County.
According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) has been detected in domestic rabbits. While the disease is considered a foreign animal disease, which isn’t known to occur in the U.S., it’s highly contagious and can affect both domestic and wild rabbits.
The disease spreads through direct exposure or via food, water, bedding, or other contaminated materials, DEEP said, noting that people can also spread the virus indirectly on their clothing or shoes.
While the disease does not impact human health, it is fatal for rabbits.
DEEP’s Wildlife Division is working closely with the DoAG to monitor the disease and how it could pose threats to the conservation of the state’s only native wild rabbit, the New England Cottontail. DEEP urges owners to never release pet rabbits or hares into the wild or allow them “free range.”
Rabbit owners who have questions regarding the disease should reach out to their veterinarians. Find more information on Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease here.
Anyone who spots unusual deaths in wild rabbits, specifically in Hartford County, should report it with a photo and information at firstname.lastname@example.org.