In North America in 2020, an outbreak of the deadly Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) emerged and will likely be an ongoing concern. RHDV is ahighly contagious and deadly calicivirus found in parts of Canada, Mexico, the United States, the majority of Europe, South Africa, China, and Australia. It kills quickly and with little warning. A safe and effective RHDV2 vaccine is available.

House Rabbit Society strongly recommends that all rabbit owners and caregivers (including fosterers and shelters) vaccinate their bunnies, where the disease is present. HRS also encourages rabbit owners to only board their rabbits at facilities that require the vaccination.

Any sudden death, especially in an otherwise healthy rabbit, is suspicious and should be reported to your veterinarian as a possible case of RHD.

*Map courtesy of

RHDV2 Vaccination Resources

HRS thanks r/Rabbits for permission to link to their RHDV2 resources,
including lists of veterinarians offering RHD vaccines in the USA, Canada, and South Africa. Select your country’s tab, then scroll down to the table to find vet clinic listing.

Protecting your Rabbits from RHDV2

RHDV2 affects both wild and domesticated rabbits. It is spread through contact such as on your shoes, clothing, or tires. It can also be carried through contact with mosquitos and flies, as well other contact exposures.
While the best way to protect your rabbit is to have your rabbit vaccinated annually, here are some biosecurity recommendations you can also use at home to keep your rabbit safe.

  • House your rabbit indoors and reduce–or eliminate outdoor playtime–especially in endemic areas.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling your rabbits.
  • Change your clothes and wash your hands after contact with rabbits who are not your own.
  • Don’t let your rabbit play with other rabbits from outside your home.
  • Don’t feed plants, grasses, or tree branches foraged from outside, especially in endemic areas.
  • Because RHDV2 is spread through contact and because it is also endemic in wild rabbit environments, if you go out on a trail then remove your shoes or hiking before entering the home.
  • After a hike, disinfect shoes and other objects that may be contaminated, using a disinfectant effective for RHDV such as Rescue Disinfectant.
  • Minimize your bunnies’ exposure to insects such as mosquitos and flies. Maintain your window and door screens and seals.
  • Use a monthly flea treatment (e.g., Revolution).
  • If your rabbit is not vaccinated, trim your rabbit‘s nails and groom them at home.
  • Consider adopting a “no shoes” policy in your home.
  • Quarantine any new rabbits for at least 14 days.
  • Get your rabbit vaccinated if it is in your area–and remember to get the annual booster shot.

Learn More About RHDV2

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