April 14, 2021
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has been notified that the detection of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus in northeast Arkansas was made in error and has been retracted.
The error which led to the false positive was detected at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, which notified the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, April 9.
“This is a good thing,” Dr. Jenn Ballard, state wildlife veterinarian with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said. “But it’s important that we keep up our guard and be on the lookout for this virus. The most efficient and cost effective way to fight a disease in wildlife populations is to prevent it from being introduced to an area. That is why the ADA has health regulations for importing domestic rabbits.”
The ADA requires domestic rabbits to have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection issued by an accredited veterinarian before being brought into Arkansas. Wild rabbit species kept as pets must have an up-to-date CVI along with an importation permit issued by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus is a highly contagious virus that is nearly always fatal and is capable of causing high mortality in both domestic and wild rabbit species. The virus has been recognized since the 1980s as a disease of domestic rabbits, but a new strain (RHDV-2) emerged in 2010, which also affects wild rabbit and hare species native to North America, including Arkansas’s two native rabbit species, the eastern cottontail and swamp rabbit.
Signs of the disease in domestic rabbits include loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, seizures, bleeding from the mouth or nose and difficulty breathing.
Anyone who finds a concentration of dead rabbits or rabbits exhibiting signs of RHDV-2 should contact the AGFC’s wildlife health program immediately with coordinates of the location. Details of the incident may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A brochure about RHDV is available at www.agfc.com/en/hunting/small-game/rabbit.