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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.
Baby Shark and Quebec
(House Rabbit Resource Network)<p>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. </p><p>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. </p><p>"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.</p>
(House Rabbit Resource Network)<p>At least <a href="https://www.tahc.texas.gov/news/2020/2020-05-13_RHDV2.pdf" target="_blank">one pet bunny has died of the illness in Lampasas</a>, the closest report to Austin so far.<br></p><p>"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.</p><p><a href="https://www.tahc.texas.gov/news/brochures/TAHCBrochure_BiosecurityRabbit.pdf" target="_blank">Austin-area bunny owners are being warned: </a>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.</p><p>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.<br></p><p>The dual virus precautions feel "overwhelming," she said.</p><p>"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."</p>
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