Information and Resources for Exotic Owners
Dogs and cats are not the only family members that need good homes. Rabbits, Ferrets, Guinea Pigs, Reptiles and Birds make wonderful pets and have certain needs to keep them healthy. Below is a list of resources available if you have a companion that is a more exotic animal that is a member of your family.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV-2)
In October 2021, the Office of the State Veterinarian for Pennsylvania approved the United States Department of Agriculture’s Center for Veterinary Biologics’ (USDA CVB) recommendation for emergency use authorization for an unlicensed, experimental Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Vaccine Serotype 2. Because this disease is highly contagious and fatal, and is believed to be prevented by proper vaccination, we encourage all our rabbit patients to be vaccinated against RHDV-2 as an integral part of responsible care.
RHDV has been found in rabbits across the United States and spotted in Pennsylvania and nearby states. RHDV can cause fatal illness in domestic and wild rabbits and no treatment has been successful against the disease. The virus is readily transmitted between a variety of wild animal species (not just rabbits) and is very persistent in the environment unless specific disinfectants are used.
The two best ways to prevent RHDV are to vaccinate your rabbits against the virus and practice strict “biosecurity” measures.
- Your rabbit may be vaccinated at Bethel Park Animal Clinic against RHDV if he/she is not showing a fever or signs of infectious disease at the time that might interfere with vaccine efficacy. We use the Medgene vaccine which includes an initial injection, followed by a booster in 21 days and then annually thereafter. For more information about the vaccine please visit https://medgenelabs.com/rhdv2/.
- Biosecurity measures include housing your rabbits strictly indoors, protecting them against exposure to flying insects that could carry the virus from outdoors, not feeding them any outdoor greens, and housing them away from all other rabbits. As the virus can be carried on clothing, we recommend changing or disinfecting shoes that have been worn outdoors prior to entering areas where your rabbit may be exposed.