Wild rabbits in Ohio dodge deadly disease that has spread in West


Rabbits, a fixation of some hunters, are renowned as multiplication experts, a talent that might well come in handy.

In September 2018, a domestic rabbit kept in Medina County died from a disease that previously had never been seen in the United States. So reported the Ohio Department of Health.

The disease, which based on its viral structure, its propensity to spread and its effects, has been likened to Ebola in humans.

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) did not escape into the wild rabbit population in Ohio, a fortunate reprieve because it’s thought to inflict an excruciating death from internal bleeding on up to 90% of the rabbits it infects.

It has since escaped elsewhere, reaching into the wild rabbit populations in 11 Western states and spurring reports that rabbits are entirely missing in some areas where they previously lived.

The mutating virus appears to have become more deadly than earlier strains, the Journal of the American Medical Veterinary Association reported in an article about the spread of RHDV2 into various Western states.

Further, researchers suggest an outbreak among wild rabbits can eradicate 80% or more of a local bunny population. Species at risk include Eastern cottontails in Ohio and the Midwest, marsh rabbits in the East and Southeast, and mountain cottontails, pikas and jackrabbits in the West.

Though not reappearing in Ohio since 2018, the disease in recent years has popped up among domestic rabbits in nearby states. RHDV2 has been identified in Tennessee and Kentucky. In July came confirmation the disease had killed rabbits raised in the Chicago area.

In at least one instance, an outbreak in New Mexico has been linked to infected domestic rabbits. Once in the wild, the prospects of containing the disease rank from slim to none.

The virus, which can survive outside a living host for as long as three months, spreads by direct contact or by contact with contaminated blood or excretions. People, though not vulnerable to the contagion, can infect rabbits by spreading the virus clinging to clothing or skin.

RHDV2 has been known in Europe only since 2010. Earlier-emergent strains of the virus killed domestic rabbit breeds and European hares. RHDV2, however, ominously had developed the chops to spread into a more diverse population of wild rabbits.

The original strain of the disease is believed to have originated on the Iberian Peninsula that includes Spain and Portugal. A 1984 outbreak in China, which occurred after the importation of Angora rabbits from Europe, killed 19 million domestic bunnies in nine months.

A mutation, RHDV1, was discovered in Europe during the early 1990s. The strain in 2000 showed up among some domestic rabbits in North America but no seepage into the wild population was recorded.

Scientists in Australia, where introduced rabbits turned into an invasive scourge threatening native animals, have kept tabs on rabbit hemorrhagic disease.

There, researchers noted that young rabbits tended to survive HRDV1 infections, developing lifelong immunity in the process. Deaths among older rabbits were more pronounced among the animals dosed with higher level of contagion than those that received a lower level.

Infections from administered HRDV2, the more advanced strain, proved lethal whether the stricken rabbit was young or old, irrespective of the dosage level. Rabbits lasted no longer than 71 hours from infection to death.

A U.S.-produced vaccine has been used by rabbit raisers for about two years.

Wild rabbits apparently must fend for themselves. That’s apparently not working out well in the West. In Ohio, hunters and other bunny lovers can only await further developments.

The Depopulation Agenda Plan is commencing..

Please repent, carry your cross daily and follow me for whoever desires to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it and then you get a break.

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