Protecting the Rabbits of Our Community from Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2)

To safeguard our population of rabbits in the shelter, and to prevent the potential spread of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2), Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) is taking special precautions, and asking the public to be observant for any potential cases of the disease.

Background

On March 26, 2021, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) confirmed rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) in a group of feral domestic rabbits found in Milwaukie, a suburb of Portland.

RHDV2 is a viral disease that causes sudden death in rabbits - wild or domestic. The virus is highly contagious among rabbit populations and can spread through contact with infected rabbits, meat, fur or materials coming into contact with them. RHDV2 poses no human health risk, and also does not pose a risk to dogs or cats. The virus only infects rabbits.

Learn more about the recent case of RHDV2, and how you can help

Learn how you can protect your rabbits from RHDV2

If you find a deceased rabbit

If you find a deceased rabbit, or if your rabbit has died suddenly or unexpectedly, please report it directly to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) in order for them to track the virus's presence and movement. 

Please call 1-800-347-7028 or visit https://oda.direct/RHD to report domestic or wild rabbits which are suspected to have died from RHDV2. 

If you find a stray rabbit

If you find a stray rabbit in your yard, please keep them separated from any of your own pet rabbits, and observe them. If you have direct contact with a stray rabbit, wash your hands and your clothes before interacting with any of your own rabbits. There is no risk of the virus affecting any other species of animal in your home other than rabbits.

Look for signs and symptoms of RHDV2

  • Fever
  • Appearing tired, and not moving a lot
  • Not interested in eating or drinking for abnormal periods of time 
  • Strange neurological behavior such as abnormal movement, weakness, difficulty moving or balancing, head tilting, repetitive eye movement, seizures, tremors, or paralysis in one or several limbs.
  • Strange noises or vocalizing
  • Nose bleeds

If any signs of RHDV2 are present, please call 1-800-347-7028 to report a potential case. 

Finding the Owner

If no signs of RHDV2 are present, and the rabbit appears to be social, you can keep the rabbit at home and try to find the owner using the steps and resources on multcopets.org.

If you are able to locate the owner, you are able to give the rabbit back directly.

If an owner isn’t found, we encourage finders of stray rabbits to foster them temporarily for fourteen days if possible to help prevent the potential spread of the virus. 

Learn about caring for rabbits in your home.

Bringing the Rabbit to the Shelter

If you have already tried to find an owner unsuccessfully, or if you aren’t able to keep the rabbit at your home, you may bring the rabbit to MCAS. However, all rabbits must remain in quarantine for fourteen (14) days before they can be brought into the main shelter building, and will be kept in temporary shelter housing on site.

Please leave the rabbit in your vehicle, and do not bring them to the door or into the shelter. A staff member will physically check for any signs or symptoms of RHDV2 before proceeding.

Owned rabbits, or rabbits from outside of Multnomah County will not be accepted.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit

Gareth Rasberry, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons