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Critical Updates


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For information about how it kills, timelines, and ways to stop it, see:

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Well, the official word is finally in. According to the OIE posted Final Report posted today, Dr Jack Shere, Deputy Administrator Chief Veterinary Officer, USDA-APHISVeterinary Services, USA United States Department of Agriculture has declared that as of October 5, 2018 the RHDV2 “event” is closed.

Find that report here:

Leaves a LOT of questions echoing into thin air, doesn’t it? At least until the next outbreak.

Monday, October 8, 2018
Well folks, big surprise here……the silence is deafening.

To the best of my knowledge, since last week there has been no new information released by any animal health authority regarding the status of RHDV2 in the United States.

Nothing regarding where it came from, where it may have gone, nothing publicly said about the remaining rabbit from the Medinao, OH property, no OIE weekly update…just, nothing.

That last rabbit was supposed to have been surrendered for euthanasia and testing…was it positive or negative? What disinfection and other protocols are being employed to assure that the virus is eradicated from that premisis? What areas of that premisis were tested for the virus?

I mean…was it JUST in the barn? Or was it in the vehicles and home? How about on the personal affects…shoes, purse, wallet, car keys? Have any of the places the owner(s) went between 9/1/18 and now been tested to determine whether the virus was transported there? We KNOW this virus is easily spread around, so what about door handles, shopping carts, etc?

Where are the assurances that the virus was absolutely contained to THAT premisis? IS there any assurance the virus has been contained?!

We know from the original positive rabbit that at least some testing can happen same-day. Why no news at all for over a week?

Are we just supposed to forget about it now?!

Tuesday, October 3, 2018

All rabbits at the Hillsdale County Fair, in Hillsdale, Michigan were put on mandatory quarantine beginning Friday, September 28, 2018 following at least four unexpected deaths.

There is a credible suspicion of RHDV2 and those deceased rabbits were submitted for necropsy by the Fair Veterinarian, to the State Veterinarian.

The Michigan State Veterinarian then sent RHDV2 testing samples to the Foreign Animal Disease Laboratory at Ames, IA.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

On September 25, 2018 the American Rabbit Breeder’s Association reported that RHVD2 was confirmed in a rabbit from Medina County Ohio.

What the ARBA has NOT reported, is that the confirmed case was one of five rabbits from the single property closed rabbitry, and there is/was a single live rabbit remaining, which is/was in quarantine. FOUR rabbits have died since SEPTEMBER 1, 2018 and nobody told the rabbit community until September 25th!

From the ARBA, though they did not indicate the total number of rabbits affected or point out specifically that there is a live rabbit remaining in quarantine:

Confidentiality policies prohibit authorities from releasing the exact location of the premises where the infected rabbit was identified. Authorities are awaiting results from testing of the remaining rabbit on the premises and are conducting an intense epidemiological study to determine how the rabbit could have contracted the virus.

The ARBA has also said:

The ARBA will be the first point of contact for disseminating any developments regarding this serious concern

Unfortunately, that is misleading.

The ARBA may be the first private organization that Ohio State and Federal animal health organizations will send a press release to, but there are other options for accessing the information, and without any kind of filter or whitewashing.

Yes, I’m personally saying that I do not believe the ARBA will give you the whole truth, and I’m saying that because they have NOT given you the whole truth from the beginning of this. They aren’t even putting out accurate information at this point! The most recent “update” included information from their Rabbit and Cavy Health Committee Chair that is specific to RHD1, not RHD2, and he also said:

Have a working relationship with a local or state veterinarian. If you have a sick or diseased rabbit that dies suddenly, consider submitting the body for necropsy and diagnostic testing at a state veterinary diagnostic laboratory.

ARBA is telling you it is “safe” to continue traveling and showing, despite State and Federal Animal Healthy authorities having absolutely NO idea yet where this virus that randomly and suddenly cropped up in Ohio, USA came from, and ARBA is suggesting that a 14 day quarantine after travel is sufficient (for a virus that is KNOWN to survive in the environment….without a host….up to 200 days).

And, they are telling us to CONSIDER submitting rabbits that die suddenly to a veterinarian for necropsy?! CONSIDER IT?! Just…no! DO IT!

I just can’t even, lol

I HIGHLY recommend every single person reading this go to the link below and subscribe to the World Organization for Animal Health notification system. There is also a smartphone application that I recommend you download as well (search your device specific app store for WAHIS).

As a commercial rabbitry, we are always wary of any “news release” that minimizes the danger represented by a disease like this. Make no mistake, this disease has the potential to wipe out the domestic rabbit population in North America, and the ONLY way to conceivably stop that with any hope for widespread success is to STOP moving rabbits from place to place and implement strict biosecurity IMMEDIATELY.

I have no desire to instill fear and dread, but people have got to stop moving rabbits around!

You do not have to be a commercial rabbitry to do your part to protect the entire domestic rabbit population in the United States, and hobby and pet owners are probably THE most important group to make these necessary changes.

Sassafras Lane Rabbits recommends immediate implementation of the following for ALL rabbit owners:

Immediately close your rabbitry and stop moving rabbits on or off your property. Absolutely nothing should come in or leave. The closer you are to Medina County Ohio, the more important this is!

The ONLY exception to this should be rabbits that are being transported for terminal cull; strict biosecurity protocols MUST be followed by anyone who transports to terminal cull buyer locations.

Whenever possible, transport should not stop along the route to the buyer, and think ahead to the fact that you will track pathogens from the ground back into the vehicle via your shoes (use disposable shoe covers or disposable floor board protection inside the vehicle). Everything that was touched at the buyer location will need to be cleaned and sanitized before reentering your rabbitry (at a minimum run the vehicle through the car wash, sanitize the tires with bleach solution, and wash/sanitize ALL carriers or cages).

Immediately implement strict biosecurity to minimally include the following:

Designate clothing and footwear to be worn ONLY when handling or caring for your rabbits and keep them clean.

Always use foot baths to sanitize your footwear coming into and leaving the rabbit area.

A simple, cheap solution of 1 part 5% sodium hypochlorite bleach (you will have to read labels and/or SDS sheets to make sure the bleach you purchase is at least 5% hypochlorite ) to 9 parts water will kill this virus with a ONE MINUTE contact time. Stand there and swish your feet around in the foot bath for at least sixty seconds. Make the solution fresh DAILY. This solution can be used to spray down vehicle tires and tools like shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, feed scoops, buckets, etc.

Manage insect and other animal control. This virus is EASILY spread by flies, mosquitoes, and birds. How you do this will depend greatly on how you keep your rabbits. In outdoor hutches for example, make sure manure is cleaned up regularly (it should never attract flies) and keep the area picked up, dry, and mowed to discourage mosquito activity and wild bird feeding.

Any aged rabbit that dies, with or without any prior symptoms, should be opened up and inspected for signs of disease. You do NOT have to submit every carcass to a veterinarian for necropsy unless you have absolutely no idea what you might be looking for. Even if you DO know what to look for, make sure that you have access to a veterinarian who is willing and able to prepare samples to be sent for testing and find out what you would need to do to comply with sample requirements. Come up with a plan and stick to it!

If you are unable or unwilling to perform a necropsy at home, contact a veterinarian NOW and ask if they are able to send liver samples to your State laboratory for PCR testing. Their answer will be YES, then you have the opportunity to explain that you just want to be prepared in case of sudden deaths so that testing for RHDV2 can be done quickly. Then you can explain more (that you’d need them to perform a necropsy and determine whether testing for RHDV2 is needed), and ask questions (if you have deaths after business hours should you freeze or refrigerate the carcasses until the next business day, or should you call the veterinarian immediately, etc).