While humans deal with outbreaks of the coronavirus, rabbits and hares in northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States are suffering from a viral threat of their own.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader) reports that so far rabbits and hares both domestic and wild have been diagnosed with a type of hemorrhagic fever in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango and Sonora.
The federal agriculture sanitation authority Senasica first confirmed cases of the rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 in rabbits in Chihuahua in April. Since then it has detected 36 cases among domestic rabbits and 11 in wild hares, the latter being found in the states of Chihuahua, Durango and Sonora.
Health authorities ordered immediate action to deal with the problem, including culling infected populations and sanitizing areas where sick animals have been.
Labs operated by Senasica have tested 147 domestic rabbits and 22 wild hares, and veterinarians have tended to 52 potential cases reported from 12 states.
The virus is not native to Mexico, and experts from both sides of the border agree that it is highly contagious and lethal for rabbits and hares, but cannot be transmitted to humans or other animals.
To mitigate the spread of the virus, health authorities are advising cuniculturists, or rabbit breeders, not to transport sick or dead rabbits. Restricting nonessential persons or other animals from accessing breeding pens and avoiding buying rabbits of unknown origin will also reduce the spread of the disease.
Source: 24 Horas (sp)