SAN ANTONIO – Texas Parks and Wildlife officials are requesting that members of the public, especially hunters, report any dead rabbits found this fall and winter in order to slow the spread of a deadly disease.
Officials say the department received test results confirming that a species of wild rabbits in Texas had Rabbitt Hemorrhagic Disease, a highly contagious viral disease that is nearly always fatal and primarily affects adult rabbits, in April.
According to the department, since June the United States Department of Agriculture and Texas Animal Health Commission have not confirmed any new cases in wild rabbit populations in Texas.
Officials say the disease has been known to survive on the landscape for more than 120 days and can withstand freezing temperatures.
To date, counties with known mortality events include: Brewster, Culberson, El Paso, Gaines, Hale, Hockley, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Lubbock, Pecos, Potter, Presidio, Randall and Ward counties.
Officials say the disease 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,” TPW officials said in a statement. “Some may also exhibit neurological signs such as incoordination, excitement or seizure-like episodes.”
Additionally, officials say hunters can minimize