MILWAUKIE, Ore. — Oregon wildlife and agriculture officials have confirmed the presence of a deadly virus in feral domestic rabbits in a Portland suburb, sparking concerns the disease could spread to wild rabbits.
On March 14, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife received a report that eight domestic or feral rabbits were found dead in Milwaukie.
Ryan Scholz, state veterinarian for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, was notified and had one of the rabbit carcasses delivered to Oregon State University for testing. Results came back positive for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 on March 24.
The disease does not pose a risk to humans, but is highly contagious among rabbits and can spread through contact with other infected animals or contaminated food and water, causing acute or sudden death.
“At this point, we are confident that all eight of the rabbits died from RHDV2, and the virus has taken hold in the feral rabbit population,” Scholz said.
ODA and ODFW are asking the public to report any dead rabbits as the agencies track the virus. Officials will continue to test feral rabbits in the Milwaukie area.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease was also recently discovered in two wild jackrabbits in Ada County, Idaho, southwest of the Boise Airport.
There is no treatment, cure or vaccine for the disease. Symptoms in rabbits may include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, lack of coordination, excitement or nervousness, difficulty breathing, congested membranes around the eyes or bloody, frothy nasal discharge at death.
To report dead rabbits in Oregon, call 1-800-347-7028 or visit www.oda.direct/RHD.
In Idaho, anyone encountering a dead wild rabbit is asked to leave the carcass in place and contact the state Department of Fish and Game at a regional office or by calling (208) 939-9171. Incidents can also be reported online at https://idfg.idaho.gov/conservation/wildlife-health/add.