Rabbits in South Carolina, Connecticut die suddenly from a deadly virus


A highly contagious and deadly virus is taking the lives of rabbits in South Carolina.

Authorities discovered rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type-2 after a flock of feral rabbits suddenly died on a Greenville County homestead, the Clemson University Veterinary Diagnostic Center said Thursday.

Surviving members of the herd were quarantined.

It is the first time the malicious virus has been detected in the state. RHDV2 was first detected in 2018 and has quickly become an epidemic in western states.

The disease was also spotted in Connecticut earlier this month after 13 rabbits died within 24 hours, with the 14th member of the flock succumbing to the virus two days later, the state Environmental Protection Department said.

Rabbits and hares infected with RHDV2 have a low 30% chance of survival, the university said. Symptoms include anorexia, lethargy, conjunctivitis, respiratory symptoms, and blood-stained nose or mouth.

Rabbits infected with the disease have a 30% chance of survival.
Clemson University

“The introduction of RHDV2 into wild rabbits in South Carolina poses a serious threat to wild populations and has contributed to significant deaths in the western United States. It’s important that we do everything we can to prevent contact between infected wild rabbits and wild rabbits,” said Will Dillman, assistant chief of wildlife for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Although humans cannot get RHDV2, they can spread the killer virus. It is also transmitted through direct contact with infected rabbits, bedding, water, forage, hay, and other materials used in rabbit care and feeding.

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