New Import Requirements Aim to Protect Rabbits From Deadly Virus

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Following the recent detection of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (RHDV2) near the Tennessee border in Arkansas, live domestic rabbits, wild hares, and pikas have new requirements for import to Tennessee.

  • No live domestic rabbits, wild hares, pikas, or other susceptible species may enter Tennessee from a premises or area that is under state or federal quarantine for RHDV2.
  • If the animals are entering Tennessee from a state that had a confirmed case of RHDV2 within the past eight months, the animals must have a certificate of veterinary inspection issued by an accredited veterinarian within 72 hours of entering Tennessee.

RHDV2 does not affect humans or other animals. However, it is highly contagious and fatal to domestic rabbits, wild hares, and pikas. An infected animal may experience lethargy, decreased appetite, labored breathing, swelling, and internal bleeding. Sometimes the only sign of the virus is sudden death of the animal.

“It’s critical that we take steps immediately to keep RHDV2 out of Tennessee,” State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said. “The virus is just beyond our border, creating a serious risk to the rabbits in our state.”

RHDV2 can be transmitted through direct contact with infected rabbits or carcasses, meat or fur, feces, bodily fluids, bedding material, feed and water bowls, and hay. The virus can remain in the environment for an extended time, even in extreme temperatures.

Rabbit owners are urged to increase biosecurity measures to protect their animals. Sudden deaths of domesticated rabbits should be reported to the state veterinarian’s office immediately. Questions about import requirements can also be directed to the office at 615-837-5120 or [email protected].

Hunters should wear gloves and disinfect equipment and hands after field dressing wild rabbits. Meat from healthy animals is safe to eat if dressed and cooked properly. Dead wild rabbits should be reported to your Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency regional office. Contact information can be found online at www.tn.gov/twra/contact-us.html.

For the most current map of RHDV2 outbreaks, visit the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website at www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/maps/animal-health/rhd.

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