Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (known as RHD2) was first confirmed in the wild in Ireland in July 2019. The first two records came from rabbits – one in Wicklow, the other in Clare. The first report from an Irish hare came on the 9th August. Since these initial incidents a request for public involvement has led to further confirmation of the disease. To date the disease has been confirmed from six different counties – Cork, Clare, Leitrim, Offaly, Wicklow and Wexford.
In all cases a post mortem of the dead animal was carried out by qualified personnel in the Regional Veterinary Laboratories of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. Tissue samples have then been sent to that Department’s specialist virology lab in Backweston where RHD has been confirmed.
I am grateful to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine’s laboratories for their professional and expert work on this issue to date.
RHD2 is known to be density dependent. The virus is also known to be highly contagious and environmental contamination presents significant difficulties in terms of any biosecurity responses.
Both Departments are continuing to monitor wild rabbit and hare deaths and a fuller understanding of the extent and impact of this disease in Ireland will emerge. At this early stage, I have no plans to appoint an independent assessor to supplement the work being undertaken by both Departments.