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Deadly rabbit disease becomes endemic in southern Arizona

Pima County animal officials are warning that a deadly disease in rabbits is spreading through southern Arizona. 

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease, RHDV2, which had been detected the last three years in southern Arizona, has become endemic in the area. 

The disease can cause fevers, hemorrhages, seizures and eventually lead to death in rabbits.

While humans and other animals cannot catch it, they can easily spread it, as it can contaminate food, shoes or husbandry items, and last in environments for months through extreme heat. 

Nikki Reck with Pima Animal Care Center says even though they haven’t seen a lot of cases, it’s best to take precautions. 

“Every rabbit pet owner should just consider, you know, vaccinating their pet regardless out of safety because even when pet rabbits are vaccinated against it when they get it, the ones that we’ve seen have all died.” Reck Said. 

The vaccine comes in two doses and can be received at exotic animal clinics. 

Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.