To my non-rabbit friends and family, please take a minute to read this:
While COVID 19 has been the “star” of 2020 (so far), there’s another virus epidemic going on that has the potential to drastically change the ecosystems in North America forever. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease-Type 2 (or RHDV2 for short) is currently sweeping across the southwestern US states & Mexico, and spreading rapidly in all directions. Since, historically, RHDV2 has only been a threat to domestic rabbits, the previous North American outbreaks have been easily contained through breeder intervention. Unfortunately, the virus changed in 2020, and can now be contracted by our native cottontails and jackrabbits; and has since been decimating the native populations as it continues to spread. While a bunch of dead rabbits may not seem life-changing, it’s important to remember that rabbits are a very significant “link” in the food chain, and a single broken link in any chain has the potential to result in chaos and devastation.
So…If you happen to come across, or hear about, a population of wild or domestic rabbits having a mass die-off, PLEASE contact the State Veterinarian to report it (or even send me the details and I’ll do the work for you). While RHDV2 only affects rabbits, it can be spread from tiny things, like a fly’s foot, all the way to big things like a truck tire driving over a spot where an infected rabbit died on the highway (and stick to the tire until the driver reaches the destination, then it destroys that local ecosystem). Ultimately, the more eyes we have out to track it, the more progress we can make to study & overcome it. Right now, cases have been confirmed in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, California, Utah, and Mexico; however that doesn’t mean it hasn’t already spread, unnoticed, to other states/locations.
Finally, I know this may not seem relevant to you, but please think about friends who have invested decades of our lives and thousands of dollars into the hobby which helped to keep us going, even when the rest of life was going to hell in a hand basket. Right now, there’s a real possibility of going to our barns and finding our rabbits dead (or dying a painful death). Then, we may have to euthanize any survivors to lower the risk of the virus spreading. It’s scary to think about.
If you read this entire post, thank you! Please feel free to share and, maybe, we can all support our “broken link” enough to keep the whole chain from coming apart.