• Gail Petersen

How Much Do You Know About RHDV2?

Updated: Nov 23


You may have heard about Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) that devastated European rabbit populations beginning in the 1980’s. It was characterized as being extremely lethal and highly contagious in both domestic and wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). RHDV1 was first seen in China in 1984 from rabbits imported from Germany.


It has since spread to many other countries with the RHDV2 virus strain finding its way into the U.S.A., first in Ohio 2018, then Washington in 2019. And, in 2020 there were confirmed RHDV2 cases in both wild & domestic rabbits across most of Mexico and the Southwest United States. A fast, serious and devastating spread. Now reaching as far east as Florida and Georgia.


The vaccines being used in Europe and Canada were available but importing them to the US was difficult and only allowed in areas where documented cases were already confirmed.


The Best News ever!

RHDV2 Vaccine Availability in USA: Starting September 28, 2021: Medgene Labs, a vaccine and immunological services provider based in Brookings, SD, received emergency use authorization for their experimental RHDV2 vaccine from the USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB).


Currently, Medgene is actively engaged with State Veterinarians to work through each state's requirements for distribution and reporting. To date, the process has been completed with 42 State Veterinarians. New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania are all approved and vaccinating!


What can you do?


Call your veterinarian. Schedule a vaccine appointment for your rabbits! If they are not providing the vaccine, find another that will.


My crew are definitely getting the vaccine. No bun is particularly excited about a trip to the vet, let alone two, but it could save their life. The shot, also not fun but it will be over in a few seconds. Lena and Bri are veterinarian veterans. They’ve had blood drawn and xrays before. It might be a little unnerving for Rocky and Gigi as they haven’t been to the vet often, but Gigi has a little extra “padding” to take a needle and Rocky, well, he is champ at managing difficult situations.


We don’t want RHDV2 to be a pandemic for wild and domestic rabbits and so we encourage everyone to investigate the vaccine for your lagomorphs. Like the COVID 19 vaccine, two shots are required, and may make your rabbit feel a bit tired or ill for a day or so.


Because of survivability, people can spread the virus indirectly by carrying it on their clothing and shoes after being exposed to an infected animal or environment. However, with proper biosafety precautions like washing your hands, taking your shoes off before entering the house and keeping your rabbits indoors, you can help keep your furry friends safe until they are vaccinated.


You buy them the best hay, the best lettuce, and the best timothy treats; why not buy them the best prevention from this deadly disease.



More from Vaccine Manufacturer Medgene

Vaccine Approval in NJ

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