A rabbit disease nicknamed "bunny Ebola" has hit Dinosaur National Monument, and the National Park Service is urging visitors to stay well away from dead rabbits. The NPS says rabbit hemorrhagic disease—RHDV2 —has been detected in wild cottontail rabbits in the park, which covers 328 square miles in Colorado and Utah. Dinosaur National Monument spokesperson Dan Johnson says large number of dead rabbits were found in the park, and tests have confirmed the presence of the virus, which is almost always fatal and leaves rabbits with a "bloody froth at the mouth," NBC reports.
"Do not touch or move dead rabbits" and keep dogs on a leash in the national monument, the NPS
said in an advisory notice, urging visitors to record sightings of dead rabbits and notify monument staff. The RHDV2 variant of the disease was first detected in Europe around a decade ago. It started spreading widely
in the western US in the spring of 2020.
Authorities say the virus is very infectious and can rapidly devastate rabbit populations, though humans are not at risk. "The virus is very hardy and can survive on clothing, plant material, or other items that may be accidentally moved from an infected area," the NPS advisory states. "Before visiting other wild areas, wash clothing and disinfect footwear." In Washington state, biologists are trying to vaccinate that state's endangered pygmy rabbits before the virus arrives, NW News Network reports.
(Read more rabbits stories.)