Amid Human Pandemic, Deadly Disease Strikes Rabbit Populations

"A virulent illness, rabbit hemorrhagic disease, was detected in a jackrabbit in Palm Springs, causing local veterinarians and rescue workers to prepare for its potential spread to wild or domestic rabbits in San Diego."

"SAN DIEGO — A lethal disease that strikes rabbits has been detected in a jackrabbit in Palm Springs, leading veterinarians and animal rescue organizations to prepare for its potential spread to San Diego County and throughout the state.

The disease, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus, is highly contagious and can jump between wild and domestic populations. It hit California for the first time in early May, when a group of about 10 dead rabbits were found in Palm Springs, and tests of one of the carcasses came back positive for the virus.

With a fatality rate as high as 80%, the disease can decimate colonies of rabbits, jackrabbits, pika and hare, but it does not affect humans or other animals, including cats or dogs. Pets, scavengers and other animals can spread the virus on their feet or fur, however, so officials are taking steps to protect rescued rabbits and urging rabbit owners to safeguard their pets."

Deborah Sullivan Brennan reports for the Los Angeles Times June 8, 2020.

Source: LA Times, 06/25/2020