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RHDV2 Update

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus is a Calcivirus in Lagovirology which can infect both domestic and wild rabbits. It causes massive internal bleeding which has a high mortality rate (nearly 100%) and kills rabbits within 72 hours. Rabbits that survive are infectious for up to 15 weeks/105 days/3.5 months. The virus can persist in a number of environments outside a host body for up to 105 days or 15 weeks or 3.5 months. It can survive cold environments and the freezing and thawing process. It can survive longer in a host dead or alive and persists in contaminated meat. It is transmitted by pests such as flies fleas ticks and mosquitoes. It is also transmissible in contaminated clothing fecal matter and urine or direct contact with an infected individual immune or not that has been infected. The disease, while hardy in cold environments and within hosts is vulnerable to PH levels of 12 and above. So antibacterial soaps and strong bases. The virus is also vulnerable to extreme heat. Temperatures above 72 degrees Fahrenheit it can only persist up to 35 days, above 99 degrees Fahrenheit it can only persist for 7 days or 1 week and in temperatures above 122 degrees it will only last for 1 hour.

I will post links below to the places I found this information and related information to keep people up to date on ways to fight the disease.

I believe a campaign against the disease using weed torches to burn infected pests and dead bodies, inoculating wild rabbits using MedGenes 2 stage inactive vaccine, and microchipping for easy ID and medical history, could nearly eliminate the presence of RHDV2 within the United States. The EU vaccines have proven effective for up to 1 year before requiring a booster, so I am hoping the MedGene will give us a minimum of one year inoculation against the virus which again brings us to next summer (the environment in which the disease is weakest and less transmissible). I have already emailed this strategy to the head of the small animals program for the department of agriculture for the state of Florida. Florida has had 3 cases, all isolated incidents in domestic rabbits with no spread to the wild population and all sites have been disinfected. It is widely believed that the issue was imported hay from infected states as most hay comes from the midwest where the virus is present in the wild populations. I am still going over the research from the WLS conference, but I wasn't able to record any of the materials and no copies of the powerpoint were distributed, so anything I didn't personally view is information I don't have. I am working tirelessly to assist the scientific community despite my lack of education, I believe I can help offer creative solutions to help save both wild and domestic rabbits and hares.

Most agencies, researchers or organizations I contact are dismissive and condescending. They find me annoying and their focus is often split amongst several industries. Not only am I considered unimportant, but often times a burden. I am learning as fast as I can. The scientific community is a lot to digest and the information is difficult to navigate. I fight every single day to improve the welfare of the rabbit community and I am inclusive and share knowledge freely. It is getting harder to work alone, but every once in awhile I get some affirmation from people in my field. I keep my doors open for rabbits in need even with the RHDV risk. I have strict quarantine protocols, but I know that even with that I am still at risk and saving an additional rabbit has little impact on that risk for now. The hay I use could be infected. I actually bought a bale of hay that had a rabbits foot in the middle. My clothes could be infected unknowingly and I could bring it in the house. A customer could accidentally bring it to me. This virus is efficient and unforgiving, but isolation brings few benefits. If you are in a hot zone get the vaccine regardless of the cost (60-100 as of now), if you are getting hay try heat treating it or quarantining for an extended period, if you see a dead rabbit call animal control and don't make contact. Do the best you can for biosecurity, but I know good security is too expensive and perfect security is a myth.

I hope that despite the virus you all persist.


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