Confirmed Diagnosis: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV2) in Connecticut

Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) has participated in confirming the diagnosis of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus in a colony of rabbits located in Hartford County at a private facility. RHDV is a foreign animal disease requiring specific protocol sampling and testing adherence.  Please contact us at for more information.

The USDA has a Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease fact sheet. Please see the following frequently asked questions below:

RHDV - USDA Fact Sheet

How is Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHDV2) spread between rabbits?

RHDV2 is resistant to extreme temperatures.  It can be spread through direct contact or exposure to an infected rabbit’s excretions or blood.  The virus can survive and spread on carcasses, food, water, and any contaminated material.  People can spread the virus on their clothing and shoes.

What are the symptoms of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease?

In the peracute phase clinical signs are usually absent apart from terminal vocalizations followed by death within 12 -36 hours.  The less rapid acute forms present with bleeding from the mouse, nose, or rectum, fever, and difficulty breathing, hemorrhages in the eye, blood in feces, and yellow mucous membranes.  Neurologic symptoms may present with a loss of coordination, seizures, depression, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

How can I prevent Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease?

Please contact your veterinarian for information on vaccines.

What are biosecurity measures for Equine Herpesvirus?

Follow these biosecurity guidelines provided by the USDA

  • Do not allow pet or wild rabbits to have contact with your rabbits or gain entry to the facility or home.
  • Do not allow visitors in rabbitries or let them handle pet rabbits without protective clothing (including coveralls, shoe covers, hair covering, and gloves).
  • Always wash hands with warm soapy water before entering your rabbit area, after removing protective clothing and before leaving the rabbit area.
  • Do not introduce new rabbits from unknown or untrusted sources. Do not add rabbits to your rabbitry from animal shelters or other types of rescue operations.
  • If you bring outside rabbits into your facility or home, keep them separated from your existing rabbits for at least 30 days. Use separate equipment for newly acquired or sick rabbits to avoid spreading disease.
  • Sanitize all equipment and cages moved on or off premises before they are returned to the rabbitry. We recommend disinfecting with 10% bleach or 10% sodium hydroxide mixed with water.
  • Establish a working relationship with a veterinarian to review biosecurity practices for identification and closure of possible gaps.


The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) is in the Department of Pathobiology at UConn's College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. CVMDL is on the front lines of research and testing to keep humans and animals safe. Disease diagnostics and monitoring is one part of their work.