Citing advice from the state veterinarian, the Missouri State Fair is cancelling all rabbit shows at this year’s fair. According to the fair and state department of agriculture, rabbits are at risk of contracting a highly contagious virus, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus serotype 2 or RHDV-2. The virus has been detected in six western states and is spread by direct contact with infected rabbits, their droppings, or bedding and feed that they’ve come in contact with.

Sudden death is commonly associated with the disease, with some infected rabbits having a blood-stained nose caused by internal bleeding. Other signs include fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, neurologic signs and difficulty breathing. The incubation period for the disease is one to five days. While RHDV-2 cannot spread to humans or other animals, infected rabbits may come down with other diseases such as tularemia or plague that can be transmitted to humans. The state veterinarian’s office says if infection is suspect, do not handle the infected animals or have other animals come into contact with them. Suspected cases should be immediately reported to the state veterinarian’s office at (573) 751-3377.