There has been much talk about viral epidemics in this 2020. Of course, the best known is SARS-CoV-2. As if it wasn’t. However, the African Ebola outbreaks hardly leave a truce from the time one ends to the time another begins, measles is reaching worrying numbers on this very continent and a swine flu with pandemic potential has set off Chinese alarms. We are only halfway through the year and plagues and viral outbreaks continue to appear around the world. One such outbreak is the one in the United States caused by the RHDV-2 virus, better known as Bunny Ebola.
Actually, given the apocalyptic appearance of this 2020, we strive to see something new in every news story. However, many of these situations have been experienced before, at a time when the misfortunes were somewhat more diluted. This is the case of this virus; although, certainly, it is causing real havoc in seven states of the North American country.
Although RHDV-2 is not related to Ebola, it is known as Bunny Ebola because it causes similar symptoms in these rodents. RHD stands for “Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease” because it causes heavy bleeding in animals before they die.
It mainly affects the liver and spleen and acts quickly with an incubation period of three days after which death, which occurs on average in 70% to 100% of cases, appears in a very short time. In fact, while some show weakness and lack of appetite, others show no symptoms before the bleeding starts. Others die abruptly and the cause of death is barely distinguishable by anything more than a trickle of blood coming from their nose.
It was first described in China 35 years ago and has since spread to almost every continent. Bunny Ebola began to spread in the United States in 2018, with an outbreak detected in Ohio. A month later, another would appear in Arizona and New Mexico, apparently without any connection.
This new outbreak has also affected rabbits in western Mexico
So this is not a new disease for American rabbit breeders. This time, however, something never before seen in this country has occurred, as it has also been detected in hares and wild rabbits. This year, it appeared again in New Mexico, where nearly 500 animals were infected between March and June.It would later spread to Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Texas, and some parts of western Mexico. Overall, mortality is now at 90% in both wild and domestic animals.
And the worst thing is that, because it is so contagious, even those who are healthy are being taken out if they have been in contact with sick rabbits. The latter is because it is a highly resistant virus. It has been proven that it can live for three months at room temperature and for at least one hour at 122°C. Furthermore, it cannot be killed by freezing. The few rabbits which survive have an infectious viral load for two months and therefore become a danger to their companions. Also this contagion can be generated in multiple ways,by contact with both hair and fluids,including urine,faeces and respiratory secretions.
It is not contagious to humans or other animals, but they can serve as vectors, for example by getting their hair caught in their clothes. Even insects which sting or land on rabbits can help to transmit Bunny Ebola.
Fortunately, there is a vaccine but it is not still very accessible in the United States.
Everyone is desperate to get the coronavirus vaccine, but it is not the only virus for which one is desperately needed. Even if the vaccine already exists. Even if the disease is not transmitted to humans. That’s a common occurrence, in 2020 and always. Hopefully the tough situation we are experiencing will help us to be much more aware.