KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Two domesticated rabbits in East Tennessee were confirmed to be infected with Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) on Friday, Jan 28 by the State Veterinarian. Both rabbits were located in the same area and there were no other rabbits on the premises.

“This detection is an isolated incident with no known exposure to any other rabbits, domestic or wild,” State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said. “RHDV2 is not transmissible to humans, but it is highly infectious and fatal to domestic rabbits. We want to remind rabbit owners that practicing good biosecurity is the best defense.”

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease is a highly infectious, and fatal animal disease. The RHDV2 virus can cause rapid-onset disease and the state Department of Agriculture (TDA) says often the only sign of illness is sudden death in domestic and wild rabbits, wild hares, and pikas. Other symptoms include lethargy, decreased appetite, labored breathing, swelling and internal bleeding.

TDA said that the virus can remain in feed and bedding for an extended time, even in extreme temperatures. They strongly suggest rabbit owners thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces, equipment, shoes, clothes, and hands when handling the animals.

Other suggested measures to prevent RHDV2 include separating domestic rabbits from other pets, livestock, and wild animals. It is advised that newly acquired rabbits be quarantined for at least 30 days from other animals. If you own a rabbit that suddenly dies, the death should be reported to the state veterinarian’s office at 615-837-5120.

For this case, TDA says that Animal Health staff are looking into the source of the virus. No additional movement restrictions or state veterinarian emergency orders have been issued at this time. However, no susceptible species may enter Tennessee from an area that is under state or federal quarantine for RHDV2.

For the most current map of RHDV2 outbreaks, visit the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website.