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Updates on Viruses Affecting New Yorkers: COVID-19 and Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2

We would like to update you on recent developments concerning two viruses - RHDV2 and COVID-19.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update

Corona Virus, COVID-19

Please be advised that Long Island Birds & Exotics Veterinary Clinic has implemented new protocols because of concerns about spreading Covid-19, which will go into effect immediately. Our goal is to take care of your pets, while adhering to the recommendations of the CDC and limiting personal contact as much as possible. At LIBEVC, we want to be particularly cautious about Covid-19 to help protect you, your family, and our staff.

We ask that no one with active Covid-19 visit the practice, as doing so could expose members of our team, as well as other clients, to the disease. In addition, while there isn’t any evidence that the vast majority of animals play a role in the spread of Covid-19, disease prevention protocols are still being vigilantly followed here.

  • Effective immediately, all scheduled boarding will be canceled until May 1st. Medical boarding will be scheduled on an emergency basis only.

  • All non urgent appointments will be canceled. This includes grooming appointments and routine health exams. Only sick visits will be scheduled.

  • Please come to your appointment on time. We would like to reduce the number of people in our waiting room to the minimum. Note that you may be asked to wait in your car while your pet is being treated.

  • If you cannot make it on time to your appointment, please be courteous to our other clients, patients, and staff. Call to cancel your appointment in advance so we can give another pet the slot.

At LIBEVC, the health of you and your pet is extremely important to us and while we love to see each and every one of you, your health and safety as well as our staff’s is of the utmost importance.

Can My Pet Get Coronavirus?

Many of you have emailed and called us today asking if you could get or spread Covid-19 from/to their pet. Below is a short answer from the AVMA website.

"Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets become ill with Covid-19 or that they spread it to other animals, including people."

"Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with Covid-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them."


RHDV2 Update

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2)

Last week, another exotics specialty hospital in Manhattan contacted the state animal health officials after eleven rabbits under their treatment died suddenly. Two of these rabbits displayed symptoms of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2), a rare disease. RHDV2 is not a risk to humans or public health, and it does not affect other animals besides rabbits. The U.S.

Department of Agriculture and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets are working hard to make sure that the virus does not spread.

What is RHDV2?

RHDV2 is very contagious and is caused by a calicivirus that infects both domesticated and wild European rabbits. It is passed by direct transmission between rabbits (alive or dead), and is present in all rabbit bodily fluids, such as saliva and urine. It can also spread through contaminated materials like water or food. Until 2018, it only had one strain, RHDV1, but now a second strain has emerged. We have seen cases happening in New York with many different rabbit ages and breeds.

It frequently spreads to the liver, causing liver failure, and can result in sudden death with no warning. This can happen anywhere from 12-36 hours post-infection. Rabbits usually display bloody discharge from body orifices at the end of the infection.

Who is it a threat to?

RHDV2 is not a risk to humans or public health, and it does not affect other animals besides rabbits. The Center is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to make sure that the virus does not spread.

Can humans transmit it to rabbits?

Yes, they can. Some studies show that the virus is able to last almost 100 days at room temperature. This means that the virus can be carried on your shoes and clothes, and spread by touching infected areas. Therefore, house rabbits are not safer than outdoor rabbits.

What should I look for in my rabbit?

Symptoms of a rabbit with RHDV2 include:

  • Loss of appetite and coordination

  • Depression

  • Lethargy

  • Anorexia

  • Seizures

  • Nasal or ocular bloody discharge

  • Internal hemorrhaging

  • Shortness of breath

  • Sudden death with convulsions

  • And/or death within 1-3 days

Call us immediately if you notice your rabbit displaying any of the above symptoms. Make sure that rabbits are housed indoors and have minimal contact with any rabbits whose history is unknown. If you get a new rabbit, make sure to quarantine it for at least 30 days before introducing it to your rabbitry.

RHDV2 can be diagnosed with PCR, with the liver being the ideal location to test. However, there is currently no treatment for the virus.

How can I protect my rabbit?

While there is no vaccine to prevent RHDV2 in the U.S., the following tips can help decrease your rabbit’s chances of contracting it:

  • Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap, especially before and after visiting your rabbit area.

  • Clean and sanitize all cages and equipment.

  • Do not share any equipment with other rabbit owners.

  • If you get a new rabbit, make sure to quarantine it for at least ten days before introducing it to your rabbitry.

While the situation is believed to be under control, at LIBEVC we are temporarily suspending the intake of rabbits for boarding only as a precaution. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Have any questions or concerns?

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