A new deadly epidemic is expanding in the United States. Fortunately it is not about other diseases related to Coronavirus, but is a virus that kills wild rabbits. It started in New Mexico in March and has since spread to Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, California and Mexico. Represents one fatal threat to pets and for wild animals.
The disease would seem be caused by hemorrhagic diseaseof type 2 rabbit and it wouldn’t seem hit men or other animals except species, similar to rabbits, such as hares and pikas. This is the first outbreak discovered in North America, but they can highlight small cases in Ohio, Washington and New York.
What is this new virus that affects rabbits?
According to Ralph Zimmerman, a veterinarian from New Mexico, where the first outbreak appeared, he explained that this virus is completely unknown. However it may have been imported from already infected pets; the disease was first identified in France in 2010 and yes it is widespread in Europe and subsequently in Australia, where it swept the species in about a year and a half.
An outbreak in a New York veterinary clinic in March of this year killed 11 pet rabbits. “We hear rumors about the underground transport of rabbits and there are people who import rabbits from Europe. So our concern is that someone brought them in, they were carrying the virus during transportation. If one of them died, they threw it and boomed, we infect wild rabbits and go away “, said Dr. Zimmerman.
Currently not much can be done for wild rabbits, many die and those who survive, because they are resistant to the virus, repopulate the area. How much population will die will help to understand what impact this disease will have on predators that feed on rabbits.
The virus is caused by an evolution of RHDV 2
The virus is a variant of the original RHDV, which emerged in China in 1984 and spread to Asia, Europe, North and South America. When it first spread to Australia, scientists were studying it for possible use in controlling rabbit populations. Since then it has been killing rabbits in Australia, although RHDV type 2, the new virus, has taken over and has become the dominant strain.
It is a virus, as well as highly contagious, too very powerful and robust. According to National Wildlife Health Center Federal, it can survive for several months in dry conditions and it can be spread by rabbits, skins or meat or anything that has come into contact with them, including insects. Often rabbits simply fall dead.
The disease represents a serious danger to domestic rabbits. Last year, the agriculture department estimated that around three million U.S. families had around 6.7 million domestic rabbits. There is a vaccine for the disease approved in Europe and states can approve its use, as happened in New Mexico, said Dr. Zimmerman.