Rabbit hemorrhagic disease

Rabbit in grass


In this article:
  • Find answers to frequently asked questions about rabbit hemorrhagic disease type 2.
  • Learn about methods to prevent the spread of rabbit hemorrhagic disease type 2.
  • See reporting guidelines and procedures.
  • Download resources to educate clients and help identify infections.
RHDV handout

Client handout: RHDV2

Use this handout to help educate clients about rabbit hemorrhagic disease and its prevention.



Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (RHDV2) is a highly infectious and lethal virus that only infects lagomorphs, including rabbits and hares. RHDV2 is immunologically different from the older RHDV that first was identified in the 1980s. RHDV2 is now considered endemic in the Western U.S. It’s important to educate clients about recognizing clinical signs and following prevention guidelines to reduce the spread of this fatal disease.

How can RHDV2 be prevented?

An experimental rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) vaccine from MedGene has received emergency use authorization from the USDA. With emergency use authorization, there are specific steps and documentation required to distribute the vaccine. Veterinarians can check with their state veterinarian for more information about specific requirements for the use of the vaccine in their state.

Tips for rabbit owners
  • Talk to your veterinarian about appropriate disease control protocols, especially if you also hunt rabbits.
  • Wash hands before and after handling rabbits.
  • Keep unnecessary people from visiting or holding your rabbits.
  • Do not allow your rabbits on the ground outdoors. House them off the ground if they are kept in outbuildings.
  • Maximize insect and rodent control.
  • Feed pelleted feed or purchase forage from unaffected states.
Tips for rabbit clubs and shows
  • Rabbits should not participate in events if any rabbits on the home premises have any illness.
  • Clubs/show hosts should check with the state veterinarian to determine any restrictions on rabbit movement.
  • Clubs/show hosts should strongly consider requiring certificates of veterinary inspection (CVIs) for event participation.
  • Equipment and supplies should not be shared at events.
  • Rabbits that participate in events should be placed in quarantine/isolation for 30 days afterward to observe for illness. Owners should check with their veterinarian to see if a longer quarantine/isolation period might be appropriate for your situation.
  • Remember that it is illegal to move animals if they are under a quarantine order.


If RHVD2 is suspected, any rabbit owner should immediately quarantine their animal or herd and call their state or federal animal health official. (A local veterinarian can assist.)

Owners and veterinarians may also call USDA APHIS Veterinary Services National Center for Animal Health Emergency Management at 1-800-940-6524 for 24/7 assistance.

As with all highly contagious foreign animal diseases, timeliness is critical. The more quickly an outbreak is detected, the more quickly it can be contained and mitigated.