NEW JERSEY – The New Jersey Department of Agriculture recently approved the sale of a rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus, serotype 2 (RHDV2) vaccine to help prevent rabbit hemorrhagic disease, which is highly contagious and often fatal for domestic and wild rabbits.
While the virus has not yet been detected in New Jersey, it has been found in rabbits in several states, mainly in the Western States. The RHDV2 cannot be transmitted from rabbits to humans or other animals, officals said.
“Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) is very unforgiving and can decimate susceptible rabbit populations,” New Jersey State Veterinarian Dr. Manoel Tamassia said. “We are very fortunate to have this experimental vaccine available to use before the disease reaches New Jersey. This is a head start that is rarely seen when dealing with these diseases. Rabbit owners should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccinating their rabbits against RHD with their veterinarian.”
Clinical signs associated with RHDV2 can include fever, bloody nasal discharge, hemorrhages, seizures, other neurological signs, difficulty breathing, inappetence, and lethargy. RHDV2 can cause acute death. A strain of RHDV2 first emerged in Europe in 2010, officials said.
The United States Department of Agriculture, Center for Veterinary Biologics granted an Emergency Use Authorization as an experimental vaccine to protect against RHDV2. The vaccine is an inactivated recombinant vaccine given as a two-dose series, 21 days apart. The vaccine is available to New Jersey licensed veterinarians for in-state administration to domestic rabbits. Pet rabbit owners are encouraged to speak with their licensed veterinarian regarding RHDV2 vaccination. The RHDV2 vaccine is manufactured by Medgene Labs of Brookings, S.D.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease is a reportable disease. All veterinarians and rabbit owners are encouraged to be on alert for RHDV2 and continue practicing good biosecurity to prevent its spread, officials said.
Any veterinarian or other person who suspects existence of the disease should notify the NJDA, Division of Animal Health at 609-671-6400. The New Jersey Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory (NJAHDL) is available to assist with RHDV diagnosis and can be reached at 609-406-6999 or via email at email@example.com. Learn more about the NJAHDL at www.jerseyvetlab.nj.gov.