Pet Care Veterinary Hospital

RHDV2  & Pet Rabbits


What it is:  Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV2) is a highly contagious and deadly disease caused by a calicivirus that affects both wild and domestic rabbits.

How is it transmitted?  It is shed in urine, feces, and secretions from eyes, nose, and mouth, and remains present in fur and internal organs and tissues.  The virus infects rabbits through the mucous membranes of their eyes, noses, and mouths.  Sick rabbits and insects typically transmit the virus.

I have an indoor only rabbit.  Can my rabbit catch this?  Absolutely!  The disease can be transmitted by people or animals through contact with contaminated objects, animals, insects, or feces.  It can be transmitted by indirect contact with exposed objects like feeders, water crocks, cages, carriers, etc. Rodents, insects, birds, and other animals can serve as the mechanical vector for transfer to rabbits or equipment. Humans can also transmit the virus on shoes and clothes if they have been exposed to the virus.  Even if your rabbit is kept inside, they are still at risk of becoming infected with RHDV2. 

What happens if a rabbit catches this?  Many times the only signs of the disease are sudden death and blood-stained noses caused by internal bleeding,

Have there been any cases in our state?  As of March 10th, 2022, there have been no reported/documented cases of RHDV2 in the state of Virginia.  However, there have been confirmed/documented cases in the following states:  Kentucky and Georgia (December, 2021), Montgomery County, New York (December, 2021), Minnesota (September, 2021), South Dakota, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Oregon

What can I do to protect my pet rabbit?  Consider vaccinating your rabbit (s). The Medgene vaccine is currently available here at Pet Care.  It is a two dose vaccine, second dose is given 3 weeks after the first one.  You will need to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians for the first dose.  The second dose can be given by one of our technicians.

For more information on the Medgene vaccine: (opens on new window)

For more information on RHDV2: (opens on new window)

Questions?  Please feel free to call us at 757-473-0111

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