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Animals

The deadly plague that could devastate the US rabbit population

Scientists aren’t sure they can mitigate the spread of the virus, which causes fevers, internal bleeding and liver failure

In early March, Gary Roemer was walking in the hills of New Mexico with his dog, Duke. Usually Duke would chase rabbits, but never catch them. This time, though, he brought back a jackrabbit.

Roemer, a wildlife biologist with the University of New Mexico in Las Cruces, initially thought the rabbit was just feeble. But the next day he found a fresh carcass with grisly conditions: it was bleeding from the nose and the anus. “That’s when I thought: this is pretty unusual,” Roemer says.

Related: Increase in invasive species poses dramatic threat to biodiversity – report

We don’t have any tools to mitigate the spread or stop it once it’s out in free-ranging populations

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