The Maui News
Agricultural officials have confirmed a viral rabbit disease on Maui in the first such case of the virus in Hawaii.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state Department of Agriculture confirmed rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus, type 2, in a 4- to 5-year-old neutered male rabbit on a farm in Kula.
Although fatal to rabbits, the disease, known as RHDV2, cannot be transmitted from animals to humans and does not impact human health, the state Department of Agriculture said in a news release Tuesday.
On June 14, the department’s Animal Industry Division received notice that nine out of 12 rabbits had died on the Maui farm. A hold order was immediately issued to prevent movement of rabbits and associated cages and materials on and off the farm.
On Friday, the department received confirmation of the virus in the one rabbit tested from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory. State Veterinarian Dr. Isaac Maeda issued a formal quarantine order on the premises. The duration of the quarantine is expected to be 120 days after cleaning and disinfection of the premises are completed. The outbreak appears to involve a single premise and is not expected to spread, the department said.
The cause of the outbreak remains under investigation, and no rabbits imported into the state have been associated with the outbreak.
Unlike other rabbit hemorrhagic disease viruses, RHDV2 affects both domestic and wild rabbits. Many times, the only signs of the disease are sudden death and blood-stained noses caused by internal bleeding. Infected rabbits may also develop a fever, be hesitant to eat or show respiratory or nervous signs.
The state veterinarian has approved the distribution and sale of the RHDV2 vaccine in Hawaii, and rabbit owners should discuss the need for vaccination with their private veterinarians, the department said.
Owners can protect their rabbits by keeping them from coming into contact with other rabbits and requiring visitors to handle them with protective clothing. They should also avoid introducing new rabbits from unknown sources or shelters. Outside rabbits brought into a facility or home should be separated from existing rabbits for at least 30 days. Separate equipment should be used for newly acquired or sick rabbits.
Owners should also sanitize all equipment and cages moved on or off premises with a disinfectant of 10 percent bleach or 10 percent sodium hydroxide mixed with water.
Any owners or veterinarians experiencing unusual losses of rabbits should contact the department’s Animal Industry Division at (808) 483-7100 or (808) 837-8092.
For more information, visit aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/fs-rhdv2.pdf.
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