HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Game Commission is warning about a rare disease that affects both wild and domesticated rabbits.
According to the Pa. Department of Agriculture (DOA), two captive rabbits from a facility located in Fayette County tested positive for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2). Outbreaks of the virus have been previously reported in domestic and wild rabbits across the United States.
The two cases in Fayette County are the first of their kind in Pennsylvania.
RHDV2 is an extremely hardy and contagious disease that spreads between hares and rabbits in many ways. The virus is not infectious to people or domestic animals other than rabbits. Rabbits with the disease may show signs of lethargy, have poor appetites, and have blood coming from their mouths or noses.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is asking members of the public to report any hare/rabbit mortality events, which is defined as finding two or more dead hares/rabbits at the same location with an unknown cause of death – by calling 1-833-PGC-WILD or by using the online Wildlife Health Survey reporting tool by clicking here.
Multiple dead or sick hares and rabbits can also be a sign of tularemia or plague, diseases that can cause serious illness in humans. It is very important that the public not handle or consume wildlife that appears sick or has died from an unknown cause. It is also important to prevent pets from contacting or consuming wildlife carcasses, as they can become infected.