AUSTIN / BOSQUE COUNTY, Texas (FOX 44) – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), in conjunction with the National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) and several Texas landowners, has detected the presence of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) within the Bosque and Ector Counties.
The Bosque County case marks the ninth county to have a confirmed case of RHDV2. TPWD is also investigating suspected cases in Mason County. Several counties in west and Central Texas which have had recent confirmed cases of RHDV2 continue to report rabbit mortalities.
Counties with recently confirmed RHDV2 cases include El Paso, Brewster, Terrell, Gillespie, Reeves, Mills, Pecos, Ector, and now Bosque County. The carcasses of two wild jackrabbits were found on a resident’s property in Bosque County, and were collected for testing in early March after they were reported to be dead – with blood coming from the nose.
The clinical signs of RHDV2 can include dullness/apathy, not eating, bleeding from the nose and eyes or watery, congested eyes – however, most rabbits are already found dead.
TPWD says Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is a highly contagious viral disease which can affect both domestic and wild rabbit species – including hares, jackrabbits and cottontails. RHDV2 appears only to affect rabbit species, known as lagomorphs. It is not known to affect humans, livestock or pets. However, pets should not be allowed to consume dead animal carcasses.
TPWD says it continues to receive and respond to mortality events in wild rabbits and hares across the state. If you notice sick or dead wild rabbits, you should contact a local TPWD wildlife biologist.
This disease is nearly always fatal and affects rabbits of all ages. The viral agent, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV), is a calicivirus with two strains – RHDV1 and RHDV2 – both being reported in North America in recent years.
You can learn more about RHDV2 in wild rabbits on the RHDV page of the TPWD website.