DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is concerned after local rabbits were found with Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease.
The disease was found in some of the more than 150 rabbits living at a DeKalb county home. The rabbits were confiscated from a home on Snapfinger Road by DeKalb County Animal Control.
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black says they found 150 animals on the property on April 19.
It was discovered that some of the animals had the Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus, which is a highly infectious and deadly hepatitis disease.
These are the first-ever recorded cases in Georgia.
“This virus is very prolific. One that lasts quite a while in the environment should it get out. So it’s something we want to contain quickly. We’re taking bio-security measure right now,” said Black.
The disease is known to only affect rabbits.
The rescued rabbits were taken to a rescue facility in Cobb County. They were placed in foster homes or adopted out. However, some of the rabbits began dying with only about 20 remaining.
The remaining are not showing any symptoms at this time.
“We have contacted those people and asked them to quarantine those rabbits for two months,” said Karen Hirsch of the Lifeline Animal Project.
The virus, first seen in China, was thought to originate in Europe. It first stated showing up in the western states in 2018.
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The virus spreads amongst rabbits through direct contact of an infected animal, either dead or alive.
Humans are not at risk of catching the virus and there is not a food safety concern.
The agriculture commissioner says they contained the outbreak and both pet and wild rabbits should be safe.
“We want to protect native wildlife. That’s what we’re very concerned about,” said Black.
The original owner will not be charged, since she handed over the rabbits with no fuss.
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