Utah officials warn of outbreak of highly contagious rabbit disease

Utah officials warn of outbreak of highly contagious rabbit  disease

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Rabbits in Utah are being ravaged by a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease that is spreading across the state, as well as other parts of the US, including New York, according to a report.

The disease is caused by a calicivirus that affects both wild and domesticated rabbits, according to the nonprofit House Rabbit Society rescue group, ABC News reported.

It has been confirmed in both southern and northeastern Utah, according to the state Division of Wildlife.

The disease — which the US Department of Agriculture said does not affect humans — was first detected in China in 1984 but is thought to have originated in Europe.

There have since been confirmed cases in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, ABC News reported.

In the US, outbreaks also have been reported in New York, the Southwest and the Pacific Northwest.

Earlier this year, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and multiple areas in Mexico also experienced outbreaks.

People are advised to look out for rabbits that appear to be bleeding from their mouths — and to disinfect hands or any equipment if it is suspected that they handled an infected animal.

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