RHD in rabbits

RHD in rabbits

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) Confirmed in Wild Jackrabbits

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) and Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) announced today the confirmation of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) found in two wild jackrabbits located southwest of the Boise Airport in Ada County. This is first case of RHD identified in wild or domestic rabbits in Idaho. 


RHD is not known to affect humans, livestock or any other species of pets. RHD has been identified in other states only in species of wild and domestic rabbits.


RHD is a highly contagious and often deadly virus in rabbits. It is spread through direct contact with an infected animal, carcass, contaminated food/water source or other material coming into direct with an infected rabbit. The virus may also be transmitted by insect vectors such as flies, fleas or mosquitos and can persist in the environment for an extended period of time, making it extremely difficult to eradicate in wild rabbit populations. RHD is known for having a high degree of mortality where, in many cases, the only clinical sign displayed by an infected rabbit is sudden death. In less acute cases, clinical signs may include dullness, loss of appetite, nasal hemorrhage (bloody nose) and congestion of the conjunctiva. Some affected rabbits may develop neurologic signs such as incoordination or seizure-like episodes. Infections in young or adolescent rabbits are usually less severe and death is not as likely.


Wild Rabbit Information

Do not touch any dead rabbits you may see near an area where RHD has been identified. Anyone encountering a dead wild rabbit is asked to leave the carcass in place and contact the IDFG:

·        Report it online at https://idfg.idaho.gov/conservation/wildlife-health/add,

·        Call Fish and Game’s Wildlife Health Laboratory at (208) 939-9171, or

·        Contact a regional Fish and Game office at https://idfg.idaho.gov/offices.

Owners of domestic rabbits should never release their rabbits into the wild.

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