Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD)

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture:

RHDV2 was confirmed in wild black-tailed jackrabbits in Kern and San Diego Counties in February 2021, and in wild cottontail rabbits in Kern and Los Angeles Counties in January 2021. A total of six southern California counties have had wild cottontail rabbit or jackrabbit detections to date: Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego.


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.


Rabbit owners are urged to protect their animals by preventing contact with wild rabbits, and keeping domestic rabbits indoors in areas with known disease, if possible. They are also asked to practice biosecurity to prevent accidentally spreading the RHDV2 virus home to their rabbits. It should be noted that that apparently healthy rabbits are capable of spreading the disease, so rabbit owners should avoid direct or indirect contact between their animals and other rabbits.


There is no licensed RHDV2 vaccine approved for use in the United States; however, CDFA is allowing California licensed veterinarians to import European vaccine to protect against RHDV2.

About RHD

Morbidity and mortality rates are high in unvaccinated animals; on some farms, most or all the rabbits may die. This disease has also caused dramatic declines in some wild rabbit populations, particularly when it was first introduced.


RHD virus (RHDV) was first seen in China in 1984, and since there have been confirmed cases in 40 countries, including in Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, Asia, Israel, the UK, Mexico, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. RHDV2, a second strain, emerged in France in 2010, and quickly spread in Europe and the Mediterranean, and has replaced the original strain in many countries. In 2015, RHDV2 was first detected in Australia, and it spread coast-to-coast in the rabbit population in 18 months and became the dominant strain replacing RHDV1.


Symptoms may include:


- Loss of appetite

- Lethargy

- High fever

- Seizures

- Bleeding from nose, mouth, or rectum

- Difficulty breathing

- Sudden death


Detections 2020-2021
Kern3December 2020
Los Angeles3November 2020, January and February 2021
Riverside6November and December 2020, January and February 2021
San Bernardino4July and September 2020, January 2021