Deadly rabbit virus expertise offered by UWindsor researchers

A bunny is seen in this stock photo. (ROMAN ODINTSOV/Pexels)

University of Windsor researchers are offering their expertise on a deadly virus that has moved into Ontario threatening pet and wild rabbits.

Professor Kenneth Ng’s lab has been studying the molecular details of replication in the family of viruses that includes RHDV-2, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus, for more than 20 years.

Researchers say the deadly rapid virus has never been shown to infect humans, but other viruses in the same family infect millions of people across North America each year.

Related to viruses that in humans cause hepatitis C, COVID-19, and what’s commonly referred to as stomach flu, RHDV-2 recently claimed two pet rabbits in Lambton County.

RHDV-2 had been previously found in Canada only in British Columbia and Alberta. The deadly viral disease has spread rapidly though wild and domesticated rabbit populations across Asia, Europe and Australia.

Dr. Ana Podadera, a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Ng’s lab, is an expert on rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus. During her doctoral studies, she worked alongside Spanish researcher Dr. Francisco Parra who discovered the virus more than 30 years ago.