Rabbit-specific disease has been found in seven Colorado counties so far.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus type 2 (RHDV-2) is making its way across the nation, and it has now spread from border to border across Colorado.
A recently confirmed outbreak was discovered in Adams County, joining six other counties in Colorado with positive RHDV-2 cases: Alamosa, El Paso, Montezuma, Prowers, Pueblo, and Weld. The cases have been identified in wild cottontails, wild jackrabbits, and domestic rabbits.
In the case of Adams County, dead wild jackrabbits were found east of Barr Lake State Park. A landowner reported several deceased rabbits on her property. The animals were sent to Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) Wildlife Health Laboratory for necropsy and confirmed positive.
The last RHDV-2 case prior to the one in Adams County was on June 6 of a domestic rabbit from Weld County.
"We will continue to monitor jackrabbits and cottontails in all the counties of the Denver Metro Area," said Matt Martinez, Area Wildlife Manager for seven counties surrounding Denver. "This may appear to be an isolated incident, but that is a part of rural Adams County so it is very possible there are other cases out there that haven’t been observed or reported."
It's important to note that RHDV-2 does not affect humans or other animals. It is, unfortunately, highly contagious and lethal to rabbits, both wild and domestic. It's also of concern because large die-offs due to the disease can cause ripples in the ecosystem, affecting food supply for natural predators of rabbits.
If you see three or more dead animals within a two week period or ANY dead or sick snowshoe hares or pikas, it's important to report them to CPW. Do not handle rabbits or rodents that have been found dead and don't allow pets to feed on the carcasses.
For domestic rabbit owners, you absolutely must avoid contact between your animals and wild rabbits. Veterinarians and owners must report suspected RHDV-2 cases in domestic rabbits to the State Veterinarian’s Office at 303-869-9130.
You can learn more about RHDV-2 and guidelines on what to look for on the CPW website.