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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - A deadly rabbit disease has been detected in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health says four of a Hennepin County family's pet rabbits died and tests confirmed the presence of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 in one of the carcasses. A news release says the remains were submitted to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in late July because the positive rabbit was lethargic, quiet, and limp before it died.

rabbits at Olmsted County Fair- Kim David/TSM
rabbits at Olmsted County Fair- Kim David/TSM

The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory spotted signs of the disease in the remains and sent samples to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, which confirmed RHDV2 was present. The Board of Animal Health says the deadly illness is highly contagious among both domestic and wild rabbits, but there is no risk to humans.

“There is a vaccine available for RHDV2, and we encourage rabbit owners to talk to their veterinarian about getting pets vaccinated,” said Senior Veterinarian, Dr. Veronica Bartsch. “Whether your rabbits are vaccinated or not, you should always call your veterinarian right away if you notice any signs of illness.”

The news release says there were eight unvaccinated rabbits in the home and the four surviving rabbits are now receiving the vaccine. They remain quarantined and are being observed for any signs of RHDV2. The source of the virus is unknown and officials note the family’s rabbits do not travel out of the home to shows or exhibitions.

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