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The highly anticipated vaccine for a deadly virus stalking rabbits across the Lone Star State arrives this week in Central Texas from France, touching off a collective sigh of relief in an increasingly anxious local bunny-owner community.
"It's awesome. We're super excited," said Lindsay Rader, shelter manager at the House Rabbit Resource Network in Pflugerville, one of the biggest and oldest rabbit rescues in the state.
The shelter, which typically houses 150-200 bunnies, is a potential hot spot for the highly contagious Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus strain, known as RHDV2.
Baby Shark and Quebec
(House Rabbit Resource Network)
The shelter is, therefore, first in line to vaccinate its current population when the hard-won vaccine—secured through a months-long slashing of state-level red tape by locals—gets here at the end of May.
Until then, bunnies that come in are quarantined for two weeks before they are allowed into the general population, Rader said. The volunteer staff leave their shoes at the shelter or cover them with booties to keep from bringing home RHDV2.
"We've already been doing more of that because of COVID-19, so it hasn't been such a big jump for everybody to take on added security," Rader said.
(House Rabbit Resource Network)
At least one pet bunny has died of the illness in Lampasas, the closest report to Austin so far.
"We think the virus is moving rapidly towards this area," said veterinarian and rabbit specialist Todd Riggan, owner of White Rock Veterinary Hospital in Pflugerville, who spearheaded the effort to get a vaccine to local domestic bunnies.
Austin-area bunny owners are being warned: Keep pet bunnies indoors, separate them from other pets in the home, leave shoes at the door when they come inside, and don't gather food for them outside.
Austin bunny owner Angela Southern, whose lionhead rabbit Winston is 10 years old, is married to a nurse who already takes his shoes off when he comes home from work—so as not to expose his family to COVID-19.
The dual virus precautions feel "overwhelming," she said.
"Everybody is at risk of something," she said. "But we're on the list for the vaccine so hopefully in the next couple of weeks, he'll get that. And then I won't be so paranoid."
Although the two are not connected, parallels to the simultaneous battle being waged by the human race against the coronavirus pandemic are not hard to find.
Except with death rate upwards of 70% and "sudden death" listed as a symptom, the bunnies are doing worse.
"It's like Ebola for rabbits," Riggan said.
RHDV2 can jump from wild rabbits to domestics, but not to other species.
It is easily transmitted through contact, surfaces, mice, mosquitoes, flies and bird droppings. It can live in an environment for three months and resists typical disinfectants. Symptoms are rare but can include jaundice, bleeding and seizures.
The vaccination arriving in Texas on May 30 is only allowed for domestic rabbits.
The current strain appeared in Washington State a year ago. It showed up again in Arizona and New Mexico in March, hitting West Texas in May, according to the House Rabbit Society information network.
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The Texas French Bread Bakery, located on 2900 Rio Grande Street, has been completely destroyed after a fire erupted on Monday night.
The Austin Fire Department responded to the fire just before 11 p.m., where they arrived to see flames coming from the roof of the bakery. Firefighters fought the fire for about an hour before the roof collapsed.
While no one was injured in the fire, firefighters say the iconic building was completely totaled.
Texas French Bread just went up in flames pic.twitter.com/agXqKN3c00
— Jordan (@AimIessFriend) January 25, 2022
AFD determined that the fire was accidental and caused by mechanical failure. AFD said the damages amounted to $1.6 million total: $1.1 million in structural damage and $500,000 in damage to the contents of the bakery.
This year, Texas French Bread will celebrate 40 years of business. Before the bakery occupied the building, it was the Rome Inn, a music venue that hosted 1970s artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Austin's first major league team is ready to extend its reach with a new collaborative sports complex The Pitch, an Austin FC destination packed with local food, beverages and Verde fervor is set to open in Northeast Austin in February.
The Pitch, a collaboration between Austin FC and Karlin Real Estate, among other entities, will be located in the 50-acre Parmer Pond District, which already hosts the club's practice facility St. David's Performance Center.
Dubbed a "true destination" for both soccer fans and the community, The Pitch will consist of multilevel shipping containers designed by Mark Odom Studio that will carve out into a 1,200-seat stadium complete with a soccer pitch made of turf, food and beverage options and a five-acre "Parmer Pond" featuring jogging trails.
Made from multilevel shipping containers, The Pitch will include food and a 1,200-seat soccer pitch made from artificial turf. (The Pitch)
“The launch of Karlin’s new food and entertainment experience will greatly enhance the Parmer development while perfectly complimenting St. David’s Performance Center,” Austin FC founder Anthony Precourt said. "The Pitch... will offer a strong variety of food options and gathering spaces for guests who will utilize St. David’s Performance Center and Parmer Field for a variety of events.”
The Pitch project lead Dave Greeley, who helped come up with the concept, is a former president of Austin FC parent company, Two Oak Ventures.
“The vision behind The Pitch at the Parmer Pond District is to be a first-of-its-kind sports, dining and entertainment destination,” said Dave Greeley, The Pitch project lead and Team Orbis president. “This will be an unmatched experience for Parmer Austin tenants, Austin FC and club supporters, and the community."
With its proximity to the practice center, the venture hopes to contribute to the growing "soccer city" of Austin during Austin FC matches and youth games with the Austin FC Academy hosted at the St. David's Performance Center.
The Pitch hopes to converge both community and club interests with Austin FC. (The Pitch)
In addition to the soccer pitch, stadium and pond, The Pitch will provide a foody experience made by the creative team behind Austin staples like Fareground and Easy Tiger. The complex will offer local bites including:
- Ranger Burger, which offers beers and burgers made from highly-coveted Wagyu beef direct from Ranger Cattle in East Austin
- Ga Roti, which merges flavors from Northern Vietnam with the culinary techniques of France to create a unique rotisserie chicken joint
- Taco Flats, a local taco chain serving Mexico City-style tacos, micheladas and more
- Sand Bar, which fulfills its namesake with beauty cocktails, local beers and a sand volleyball court
- Coffee Club, a coffee shop and bakery
- Corner Kick Bar, the soccer-focused main bar of The Pitch complete with "tunes, TVs and (a) beer garden"
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