MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is warning rabbit owners about an exotic disease that affects both wild and domestic rabbits and is spreading through the western United States.
The deadly disease is called rabbit hemorrhagic disease and has been found in California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Texas, and has also been identified in Mexico.
The virus is not related to the coronavirus and it does not infect humans or domestic animals other than rabbits.
State Veterinarian Kristin Haas says the state is greatly concerned for Vermont rabbit owners.
“Owners of domesticated rabbits are encouraged to maintain strict biosecurity standards for their rabbits and to avoid importing rabbits from the states where (rabbit hemorrhagic disease) has been identified,” Haas said in a statement.
Mark Scott, director of Wildlife for the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife said they’re concerned for wild rabbits.
“We will continue our monitoring efforts of any adult wild cottontails or snowshoe hare found dead without an obvious indication on what killed it,” Scott said.
Globally, the disease has caused dramatic declines in some wild rabbit populations since it was first detected in China in 1984.