September 27, 2021 Update – New U.S Vaccine for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Receives Emergency Use Authorization

Disease has been detected in domestic and/or wild rabbits in eleven California counties - considered endemic in those counties

CDFA taking limited regulatory action

SACRAMENTO, September 27, 2021 - Medgene Labs (Brookings, SD) received Emergency Use authorization from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) for their experimental vaccine for prevention of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus serotype 2 (RHDV2). The new vaccine is an inactivated recombinant vaccine that is authorized as a two-dose series, with the second dose given 21 days after the first. The vaccine will be available from Medgene Labs for distribution to California licensed veterinarians starting on October 4, 2021. Previously, there was no RHD vaccine approved for use in the United States (U.S.), so USDA allowed veterinarians to import European vaccine. Now that a U.S. vaccine is available, USDA has ceased issuing new permits for importation of European RHD vaccines.  Rabbit owners should contact their private veterinarian if they are interested in vaccination for RHD. Veterinarians may contact CDFA at AHBFeedback@cdfa.ca.gov for more information about obtaining RHD vaccine.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus serotype 2 (RHDV2) has been spreading northward in California; however, detection of new cases slowed during the summer months. The most recent detections were on August 19, 2021 when RHD was confirmed for the first time in Sonoma and Fresno Counties, in domestic rabbits.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Detections in Domestic Rabbits in California 2020-2021

County

Affected
domestic properties

Detected in wild rabbits

Most recent confirmation

Alameda

0

yes

June 2021 (wild)

Fresno

1

no

August 19, 2021 (domestic)

Kern

6

yes

June 29, 2021 (domestic)

Los Angeles

17

yes

June 25, 2021 (domestic)

Orange

0

yes

June 2020 (wild)

Riverside

15

yes

June 15, 2021 (domestic)

San Bernardino

5

yes

March 17, 2021 (domestic); May 2021 (wild)

San Diego

6

yes

May 17, 2021 (domestic); June 2021 (wild)

San Luis Obispo

1

no

July 1, 2021 (domestic)

Sonoma

1

no

August 19, 2021 (domestic)

Ventura

5

no

May 7, 2021 (feral domestic)

Grand Total

57

 

 

RHDV2 is a serious and extremely contagious viral disease of rabbits. Morbidity and mortality rates are high in unvaccinated animals; in some groups of infected rabbits, most or all may die. The disease has been known to cause dramatic declines in some wild rabbit populations.

The disease has been detected in wild rabbits in several southwestern states. CDFA considers the disease endemic to these areas, triggering limited regulatory action when domestic rabbits become infected, and focusing on assisting owners to protext their rabbits. Test-positive domestic rabbits are quarantined, and owners are provided information on how best to reduce spread of the virus. Restrictions on rabbits moving into California are also in effect.

Rabbit owners are urged to protect their animals by preventing contact with wild rabbits and jackrabbits, and if possible, keep domestic rabbits indoors in areas with known disease. House outdoor rabbits off the ground when possible. Owners are also asked to practice biosecurity to prevent accidentally spreading the RHDV2 virus to their rabbits. Avoid feeding hay grown or stored outdoors in areas where wild rabbits are affected. Apparently healthy rabbits can spread the disease, so rabbit owners should avoid direct or indirect contact between their animals and other rabbits.

Please report dead domestic rabbits to CDFA at 909-947-4462. Consult your private veterinarian if your domestic rabbit is sick. Report dead wild rabbits to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife at 916-358-2790 or  https://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Laboratories/Wildlife-Health/Monitoring/Mortality-Report.