My family loves rabbits. We live in a rural area where they're common as do most people in the Missouri and Illinois area. However, if you happen to see a dead rabbit, it's important that you don't touch it. There is something else you need to do instead.

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There's good news and bad news on the rabbit front. The bad news is that the United States Department of Agriculture has issued a bulletin stating that rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus serotype 2 has been detected in the United States again. The good news is that there are no reports of the disease in any rabbits in Missouri - yet.

What is rabbit hemorrhagic disease?

The Kansas Department of Agriculture defines it as "a highly contagious and fatal disease that only affects rabbits; it does NOT impact human health". More good news. But, if you see a dead rabbit or especially multiple dead rabbits, do not touch them. Instead report what you've seen to the Missouri state wildlife officials.

What are symptoms of rabbit hemorrhagic disease?

Since this disease affects wild rabbits and those that are kept as pets, this is something you need to be aware of even if there are no cases in our area yet. The USDA says "the only signs of the disease are sudden death and blood stained noses caused by internal bleeding. Infected rabbits may also develop a fever, be hesitant to eat, or show respiratory or nervous signs."

The current hotspot for this rabbit disease is the American Southwest. Let's hope the disease can be contained there and doesn't become a problem in Missouri or Illinois.

LOOK: Here are the pets banned in each state

Because the regulation of exotic animals is left to states, some organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, advocate for federal, standardized legislation that would ban owning large cats, bears, primates, and large poisonous snakes as pets.

Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

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