DENVER (KDVR) — A deadly virus nicknamed “Bunny Ebola” has made its way into Colorado and experts believe it’s starting to spread rapidly throughout the state.
“It’s going to spread throughout the entire state quickly and probably throughout the entire country fairly quickly,” said Nancy LaRoche, founder of the Colorado House Rabbit Society.
The rescue is based out of Broomfield and cares for roughly 130 domestic rabbits.
“It’s so contagious that if there’s a shelter or a home where one rabbit becomes ill with it, they euthanize all rabbits,” said LaRoche. “In order not to run the risk causing the death of all of our rabbits, we have moved them to a variety of individual homes”.
The official name of the virus is RHDV2 (Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease, V2,). Within the last couple of weeks, the virus has riddled its way through El Paso, Alamosa and Prowers counties.
“It started in New Mexico and has spread to Texas, Arizona, Mexico, California, Nevada and Colorado so far. And that’s just in a matter of weeks,” LaRoche said.
The mortality rate is extremely high, but the virus only affects lagomorphs such domestic rabbits, hares and jackrabbits, and pikas (to name a few).
“It does not go to any other animals like dogs, cats or humans. It’s strictly lagomorphs,” LaRoche said.
LaRoche is warning anyone who owns domestic rabbits to not bring them outside for the time being, given how easily the virus can spread.
The Colorado House Rabbit Society posted the following warning on its website:
RHDV2 can be transferred to house rabbits via your shoes and clothes.
Birds and flies can bring it in from miles away (via their feces), so don’t let your rabbits outside, and keep flies out of the house.
It is vital that you practice good biosecurity to keep your rabbits safe. See https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rYSwN6cbWtntnIFo-_DoUGwfFYDC8m3i/view
The most important of these is establishing a no-shoes-in-the-house policy (or have inside and outside shoes for everyone).
If you have animals that go outside, don’t allow them to walk in areas where the rabbits will be.
If a rabbit becomes infected with RHDV2, all of the rabbits on the premises must be euthanized.
You can learn more about this disease at https://rabbit.org/rhdv/
Also, if you see a dead wild rabbit, do not touch it! If you see more than a single dead wild rabbit in the same area, report it to your veterinarian.