Biologists Ask the Public to Report Rabbit Mortality Events

Rabbit with Doctor

In early 2020, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) received test results confirming that Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHDV) was found in several species of wild rabbits in Texas. Since April of this year, TPWD, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) have not confirmed any new cases in wild rabbit populations in the state. However, TPWD is seeking input from the public, especially hunters, asking that they report any dead rabbits found this fall and winter, similar to practices encouraged last year.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHDV) is a highly contagious viral disease that can affect both domestic and wild rabbit species. RHDV has been known to exist in all biological tissues and fluids within rabbits. In addition, RHDV has been known to survive on the landscape for more than 120 days and can withstand freezing temperatures. This disease is nearly always fatal and primarily affects adult rabbits.

The disease can spread between rabbits through direct contact with other infected rabbits or carcasses, contact with their meat or fur, contaminated food or water or other contaminated materials. These factors make disease control efforts extremely challenging.

As deer, waterfowl and quail hunting seasons are in full swing, TPWD asks that hunters report any rabbit mortality events, especially in areas of the Panhandle and Trans Pecos regions where previously positive cases were confirmed by both the USDA and TAHC.

To date, counties with known mortality events include the following: Brewster, Cottle, Culberson, El Paso, Gaines, Hale, Hockley, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Lubbock, Pecos, Potter, Presidio, Randall and Ward counties. Reports of dead rabbits should be made to a local biologist in the county in which they were found.

RHDV appears only to affect rabbit species (lagomorphs). It is not known to affect humans, livestock or pets other than rabbits. However, pets, such as hunting dogs, should not be allowed to consume dead animal carcasses. Often the only clinical sign is sudden death. In less acute cases, clinical signs in rabbits have included the following: dullness/apathy, not eating, bleeding from the nose and eyes or watery, congested eyes. Some may also exhibit neurological signs such as incoordination, excitement or seizure-like episodes.


TPWD advises all rabbit hunters voluntarily clean rabbits in the harvest location and discard non-consumed carcass parts in the same area. Hunters can also minimize the spread of this disease by reducing the movement of biological materials and carcasses across Texas. Hunters are advised to take standard protective measures such as wearing gloves and thoroughly washing their hands after field dressing rabbits. TPWD also requests that hunters thoroughly clean coolers containing rabbits with a 10% bleach solution after use.

More information on RHD can be found on the USDA website and on the RHD page of the TPWD website.

Learn more about domestic rabbit RHDV2 cases and reporting on the TAHC website.

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Joseph Menslage

As the President and Publisher of Katy and Fort Bend Christian Magazines, Joe Menslage is committed to covering social and political news from a Christian worldview. He founded Katy Christian Magazine in 2005, which swept the greater Houston and Katy areas like a storm. That’s when Joe realized the urgent need for publications willing to give voices to the voiceless, without political correctness or censorship. Joe Menslage founded sister-publication Fort Bend Christian Magazine in 2014. Prior to creating Katy Christian Magazine, Joe Menslage led a colorful life. He was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, spent a great deal of his childhood in Colorado, and lived in a couple of other states before he moved to Houston in 1981. Joe was God-gifted with an entrepreneurial mind, and self-started other business ventures before he found his calling. In Joe’s words, our innate talents are given by the Lord, and are meant to be used to serve the Lord. Aside from being a President and Publisher, Joe Menslage is also the co-founder of Katy Christian Chamber of Commerce, where Christians can network, build business connections, listen to passionate speakers, and enjoy monthly breakfasts and lunches. Joe Menslage also hosts a weekly political satire YouTube channel. Joe Menslage has four children. Outside of work, he enjoys hiking, watching zombie movies and K dramas, ax-throwing and Krav Maga.