PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is advising Rhode Islanders that a fatal disease affecting rabbits has been detected in North America and is asking residents to report unusual cases of rabbit mortality to DEM.  Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) is a highly contagious disease that affects both domestic and wild rabbits including hares, jackrabbits and cottontails. The threatened New England Cottontail and commonly seen Eastern Cottontail are susceptible to infection and mortality from this disease.

 

Many times, the only signs of the disease are sudden death and blood-stained noses caused by internal bleeding. Infected rabbits may also develop a fever, be hesitant to eat, or show respiratory or nervous signs.

 

The RHDV2 virus is very resistant to extreme temperatures. It can be spread through direct contact or from exposure to an infected rabbit’s excretions or blood. The virus can also survive and spread from carcasses, food, water, and any contaminated materials. People can spread the virus indirectly by carrying it on their clothing and shoes. However, RHDV2 does not impact human health and is not related to coronavirus.

 

A vaccine for RHDV2 is not currently available in the United States. Until a vaccine is available, the implementation of sound biosecurity measures is the only means to minimize risk of infection. Biosecurity means taking simple steps every day to keep germs and viruses away from your animals.

 

Once RHDV2 infects a wild rabbit population it is very difficult to manage or eliminate.  It took less than two years for the disease to spread across Australia to all of the country’s states and territories in 2015-2016. 

 

Residents who have observed unusual rabbit mortalities consistent with the symptoms listed above or suspect that RHDV2 is affecting local rabbits should report this information to RI State Veterinarian Scott Marshall, DVM in DEM‘s Division of Agriculture/Animal Health at 401-222-2781 or via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Dylan Ferreira, Senior Wildlife Biologist in DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife at 401-789-0281or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or Sarah Riley, Implementation Aide in the Division of Fish and Wildlife at 401-789-0281 or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

More information on RHDV2 and a list of recommended biosecurity practices is available on DEM’s website at http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/pdf/disease-rabbit-hemo.pdf

President Trump is blaming China for the U.S. hitting 200-thousand coronavirus deaths. Trump called the death toll "a shame," but added the number would have been more than two-million if the response wasn't done "properly." The President then attacked China again, saying they "let this happen." The U.S. leads the world in both total cases and number of deaths from the disease.       President Trump will reportedly roll out his health care plan in the coming weeks. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany [[ MACK-en-ay-nee ]] explained Tuesday "additional health care steps" would be laid out soon. McEnany noted certain aspects of his plan have already been public, including lowering drug costs and telemedicine.        The wife of the late Senator John McCain is backing Joe Biden. Cindy McCain said on Twitter the former VP is the only candidate in the race who will stand up for our values as a nation. The longtime Republican notes she and Biden don't always see eye-to-eye on the issues, but she said Biden is good and honest and will lead the nation with dignity.        Federal agents in Chicago are asking any minors who may be a victim of Netflix "Cheer" star Jerry Harris' sex crimes to come forward. People can go on a "Seeking Victim Information" web page specifically created to gather evidence in Harris' case to identify any minors who may have had inappropriate contact with Harris. The 21-year-old is accused of coercing minors to send him nude photos and videos.        The CDC is out with new guidance for Halloween in hopes of preventing trick-or-treating becoming a super spreader event. It says some of the high risk activities to avoid include traditional trick-or-treating, with treats handed out at homes or from cars. Health experts also say people should not attend crowded indoor costume parties or indoor haunted houses, attend hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not from your household, or travel to a rural fall festival.       Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman could be heading into space for their film in October 2021. This week, the Twitter account for the Space Shuttle Almanac shared a photo of spacecrafts and countries set to launch in the next three years. Under October 2021, the chart reads "SpaceX Crew Dragon" with a list of three names: SpaceX Pilot Lopez Alegria, Tourist 1 Tom Cruise and Tourist 2 Doug Liman.