- Wild rabbits in the southwestern part of North America are getting infected with a deadly virus. The virus has already affected rabbits in Southern California.
- The infecting culprit is called rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 or RHDV2 which is a lagovirus in the family Caliciviridae. Rabbits, hares, and pikas are the natural hosts for this virus.
- The situation is awful that scientists can only watch the spread and worry about species on the danger path.
- The virus started spreading in Europe and China in the 1980s infecting domestic rabbit species and has reached the Australian soil. In 2010, a new strain of the virus appeared in France killing the wild species.
- The virus also spread in Spain and Portugal, and more than half of the rabbit population has been killed. This causes a chain reaction in animal population and predators such as Spanish imperial eagle and Iberian lynx that depend on rabbits also decline approximately 50 percent.
- The virus can survive in dead animals for 3 months and can be spread through the feces of predators and insects.
- The virus is expected to spread throughout North America.
- The virus is affecting Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and part of northern Mexico.
- Some of the affected rabbit species are already declared federally endangered.
- The mortality rate for this virus averages at about 85 percent.
- There is no vaccine currently available for the disease.
- The disease symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, high fever, seizures, jaundice, bleeding from nose, mouth, or rectum, difficulty breathing, and sudden death.
- Ways to protect your rabbit and steps to prevent the spread of the disease can be found here.