State of Minnesota warns of deadly rabbit disease found in Hennepin County

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Minnesota state officials are warning pet owners about a deadly rabbit disease found in Hennepin County.

Authorities with the state Board of Animal Health say one rabbit tested positive for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) after four rabbits died unexpectedly.

Officials say the rabbit that tested positive was "lethargic, quiet and limp before its death." The carcass was sent to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory late last month for testing.

The state says the virus is highly contagious and can affect both domestic and wild rabbits. A vaccine is available, and the state is encouraging rabbit owners to get their animals treated.

The state says the affected rabbits were pets which do not travel for shows or exhibitions. Authorities are working to determine how they contracted RHDV2.

Along with vaccination for the animals, rabbit owners can take steps to prevent infections, including: "Washing hands before and after handling rabbits, limiting visitors interacting with rabbits, keeping rabbits indoors if possible, and adequately separating outdoor rabbits from wild rabbits and their environment."

It's important to note, the state says the disease poses no risk to humans.