In a press statement, the Institute of Forests and Nature Conservation (IFCN, IP-RAM) confirmed that it is investigating the cause of death of a high number rabbits found throughout Porto Santo over the last couple of days.
According to the symptoms presented in the animals found, there is a possibility that they may have died due to an outbreak of Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (DHV). This however, will only been confirmed after a series of autopsies. As a preventive measure, and to try and stem the outbreak, the IFCN are collecting dead rabbits, burying them, and then disinfecting the area with quicklime.
DHV is a highly contagious disease among European rabbits, and is caused by a virus of the genus calicivurus, and often results in death. Transmission occurs through either direct contact with infected rabbits and also through indirect transmission, where insects, birds and mammals can act as carriers. Outbreaks are common, but usually happen during the autumn and winter months, although many adults survive, recently weaned kits are often susceptible. The IFCN have further added that humans CANNOT contract the disease.
As a further precaution, the IFCN have asked all hunting enthusiasts to help find and bury any dead rabbits they find, and ask everyone involved to disinfest their clothing, footwear as well as any other auxiliary material, to avoid spreading the disease further.
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