Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Approves Emergency Use of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Vaccine

DES MOINES, Iowa (Oct. 8, 2021) - The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has approved the emergency use of the Medgene Labs vaccine that has demonstrated efficacy against Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 2 (RHDV2). The vaccine is only for use in rabbits and must be administered by, or used under the order of, a licensed veterinarian in which a valid client/patient relationship exists.

Rabbit owners should work with their veterinarians to develop a plan to protect their animals from RHDV2 and determine if the vaccine is right for their colonies.

For more information about the Medgene Labs RHDV2 vaccine, visit medgenelabs.com/rhdv2-vaccine.

About RHDV2

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is a highly contagious, fatal disease in both domestic and wild rabbits that has spread across 15 states in the U.S. since April 2020. The virus does not affect human health. To date, there have been no confirmed cases of RHDV2 in Iowa.

While a vaccine is available, practicing good biosecurity is still the best way to protect the health of domestic rabbits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship recommend:

  • Preventing pet rabbits or breeding stock from coming into contact with wild rabbits.
  • Limiting visitors to rabbitries.
  • Requiring all workers and visitors to wear protective clothing, including coveralls, shoe covers, hair coverings and gloves.
  • Washing hands with warm, soapy water before entering a rabbit area, after removing protective clothing and before leaving the rabbit area.
  • Sanitizing all equipment and cages that have been taken off the premises before returning them to the rabbitry.
  • Separating new rabbits, or rabbits that have traveled to an exhibition, from the existing rabbit colony for at least 30 days.
  • Isolating rabbits that are showing clinical signs of diseases from the rest of the colony.
  • Caring for new rabbits, rabbits that have traveled to an exhibition, and ill rabbits after caring for healthy rabbits to prevent the potential spread of diseases. Use separate equipment to care for these animals.

To learn more about RHDV2, visit the USDA APHIS website.

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About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 14 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land and enhance water quality for the next generation. Learn more at iowaagriculture.gov.

Media Contact:
Mikayla Dolch
Communications Coordinator
(515) 664-6311          
Mikayla.Dolch@IowaAgriculture.gov