Presence of deadly rabbit and hare disease confirmed in a number of counties in Ireland
A deadly virus that kills rabbits and hares has been confirmed in six counties in Ireland.
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has confirmed the existence of a deadly virus in six counties throughout Ireland.
Rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD2) was first reported in the wild in Ireland in early August.
Since then, the disease has been recorded in six counties - Cork, Clare, Leitrim, Offaly, Wicklow and Wexford.
While most of the confirmed reports to date have been in rabbits, the disease has also been recorded in Irish hares.
The Irish hare is native to Ireland and found nowhere else and according to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, should this disease prove as infectious and lethal here as it has done elsewhere in Europe, the impact on the hare could be "catastrophic".
The disease can have absolutely no effect on human health and it is entirely safe to handle infected or recently dead rabbits or hares, so long as normal hygiene procedures are followed.
The public - in particular landowners, farmers, vets and the hare coursing community - is being asked to be on high alert and to report any suspected sightings of diseased rabbits and hares as soon as possible to help efforts to monitor and control the disease.
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has decided to maintain the suspension of the licences issued to the Irish Coursing Club to capture and tag hares for the 2019/20 hare coursing season as a result of this disease.