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Viral Hemorrhagic Disease of Rabbits_ Utah 8_28_01

CEI LogoViral Hemorrhagic Disease of Rabbits, Utah

Impact Worksheet, August 28, 2001


Summary

Viral hemorrhagic disease of rabbits (VHDR) was confirmed on August 17, 2001 in a rabbitry in Utah County, Utah. This is the 2nd occurrence of VHDR in the US. The premises was quarantined and tracebacks have identified 3 establishments in Utah, Montana, and Illinois with contact to the affected premises. The 3 contact premises have also been placed under quarantine.

If Utah remains the only state in which the virus is found, the impact on the domestic industry will be small. Utah has only 1% of the US’ rabbit farms with 1% of the inventory. Thus, the supply of rabbits for meat, pelts, or research will not be significantly diminished. Since there are no major rabbit slaughter plants in Utah, processing capability will not be impacted either. Only 0.2% of all US rabbits used in research are used in Utah, therefore the potential to impact research would also be minimal.

The US exports small amounts of live rabbits, rabbit meat, and furskins. In 2000, the total value of these exports was $613,000, a major decrease from $1.7 million in 1999. Most live rabbits go to Canada.

How extensive is the situation?

Viral hemorrhagic disease of rabbits (VHDR) was confirmed on August 17, 2001 in a rabbitry in Utah County, Utah. As of August 20, 65 of the approximately 750 rabbits on the premises had died. The remainder will be depopulated. The premises was quarantined and tracing of movements into and out of the premises is underway. Tracebacks identified 3 establishments in Utah, Montana and Illinois with contact to the affected premises, all of which have also been placed under quarantine.

This is the 2nd occurrence of VHDR in the US. The first outbreak occurred in April 2000 in Iowa. The disease remained limited to one premises and the origin of the infection was never definitively determined. For information about that outbreak and background information about VHDR, see "Rabbit Calicivirus Disease, Iowa, April 2000 - Impact worksheet" at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/ceah/cei/rabbitcal.htm.

The U.S. Rabbit Industry

Rabbit farms

In 1997 there were 13,320 farms with rabbits in the US, with a total inventory of 530,189 rabbits. Since farms are defined as premises with $1,000 or more in agricultural sales, these inventory estimates may not include rabbits kept as pets. Texas had the largest number of rabbit farms, while California had the largest number of rabbits. Utah had 1% of the nation’s rabbit farms and 1% of the rabbit inventory. (Appendix A)

Source: USDA,NASS - 1997 Census of Agriculture

Rabbits used in scientific research

Almost 300,000 rabbits were used for research in 735 facilities during 1999. Based on data from Animal Care inspections, at any one point in time these facilities house a total of almost 70,000 rabbits. The current trend is that the number of rabbits used in research is on the decline. Between 1973 and 1999, the largest number of rabbits used in one year was in 1987, when over 550,000 rabbits were used, and the smallest number of rabbits used in research in one year was in 1999. Rabbits are used in basic scientific research, for potency studies of vaccines and bactrins, and for the production of polyclonal antibodies for use in diagnostic test kits.

Of the total number of rabbits used in research in the US in 1999, only 0.2% were used in Utah. The state with the largest number of rabbits used in research was California, with 18% of total US research rabbits, followed by Pennsylvania (13%) and New Jersey (8%). (Appendix A)

Source: APHIS, Animal Care

Dealer, breeders, and exhibitors

There were 136 facilities inspected by USDA, Animal Care in 1999 that were dealers or breeders of rabbits (Appendix A). In these facilities were approximately 84,000 rabbits. There were no breeders or dealers located in Utah in 1999.

These dealers/breeders sell rabbits wholesale. Animal Care does not inspect dealers/breeders that sell animals directly to the public or those that sell less than $500 worth per year. According to an article by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, the majority of rabbit breeders do sell directly to the customer rather than to stores.

In addition to breeders and dealers, at last inspection there were about 2,500 rabbits owned by 351 licensed exhibitors (Appendix A). California, at 37, had the largest number of exhibitors with rabbits; Utah had 3 exhibitors.

Source: APHIS, Animal Care; "The Pet Rabbit Market" ARBA Commercial Department Committee (http://revolution.3-cities.com/~fuzyfarm/Pet-rab.htm)

Meat production

In 2000, 735 million rabbits were slaughtered worldwide, producing just over 1 million metric tons of rabbit meat. The world’s leader in rabbit meat production was China, with 31% of total production.

There were four federally-inspected slaughter facilities in the US that slaughtered rabbits in fiscal 2001. They are located in Arkansas, Oregon, Maryland, and North Carolina. Slaughter of rabbits also takes place at other, non-federally inspected facilities. As can be seen in the following table, the plant in Arkansas slaughtered by far the greatest numbers of rabbits. These four plants together accounted for less than 0.04 percent of world production of rabbit meat.

Byproducts from slaughter which can be marketed include pelts, rabbit brain powder, and blood serum.

Rabbit Slaughter Data by State

State

Number slaughtered

FY 2001
through June 2001

FY 2000

Arkansas

201,803

385,435

Oregon

44,136

Maryland

502

North Carolina

288

Total

246,729

385,435

Source: USDA, FSIS

For additional background information on the US rabbit industry, see "Rabbit Calicivirus Disease, Iowa, April 2000 - Impact worksheet" at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/ceah/cei/rabbitcal.htm.

What are U.S. exports and imports of live rabbits/hares and rabbit/hare products?

Exports

The US exports small amounts of live rabbits, rabbit meat, and furskins as shown in the table below. The total value of US exports of rabbit products appears to be highly variable from year to year. The specific countries receiving these exports of live rabbits or rabbit products from the US varies from year to year as well. The quantities of US exports of rabbit meat accounted for 1.1% of world exports in 1999 and 2.1% of world exports in 1998. US exports of live rabbits in 1999 accounted for 2.9% of world exports and 1.7% of world exports in 1998.

In 2000, 76,469 rabbits or hares were exported, with 95% going to Canada. The remaining 5% were exported to Argentina, Japan, Denmark, Malaysia and Czech Republic. There was a marked decrease in frozen or fresh rabbit/hare meat exports between 1999 and 2000, dropping from $556,000 in 1999 to $75,000 in 2000. For frozen or fresh rabbit/hare meat, the top countries receiving US exports in 2000 were Mexico, Hong Kong, Japan, and Switzerland. The top countries receiving US exports of raw rabbit/hare furskins in 2000 were Chile, Israel, Russia, and Canada. In 2000, tanned or dressed rabbit/hare furskin exports went to Spain, Chile, Japan and Germany.

U.S. Exports of Live Rabbits/Hares, Rabbit/Hare Meat, and Rabbit/Hair Furskins, 1998 - 2000

Year

Live Rabbits/Hare
(number)

Rabbit/Hare Meat
(fresh & frozen)

Rabbit/Hare Furskins
(raw & tanned)

Quantity
(number)

Value
(US $)

Quantity
(kg)

Value
(US $)

Quantity
(number)

Value
(US $)

2000

1999

1998

Source: United Nations FAO, World Trade Atlas

Data on US state exports of rabbit products are only available by value in dollars, and not by quantity of material exported. The state is that from which movement originated and is not necessarily the state in which the product was grown or manufactured.

Exports of Rabbit Meat and Rabbit Skins by State* for 1999 and 2000

Rabbit Meat,
Fresh or Frozen
Value (1000 $)

Rabbit Furskins,
Raw & tanned
Value (1000 $)

State

1999

2000

1999

2000

Arkansas

26

9

California

45

31

3

Colorado

20

Florida

35

10

14

Georgia

156

90

Hawaii

3

Illinois

59

5

Louisiana

76

Missouri

13

Montana

3

New Jersey

53

46

New York

33

North Carolina

28

Ohio

7

Oregon

4

Pennsylvania

5

South Carolina

12

Texas

35

27

Virginia

10

Washington

3

806

Wisconsin

Other

74

Total All States

556

76

938

* State from which movement originated; not necessarily where product was grown or manufactured

Source: World Trade Atlas, U.S. State Exports

Imports

In 2000, over 99.5% of all live rabbits imported into the US came from Canada; the remainder came from Germany. Imports of rabbit meat came primarily from China, and small amounts came from Canada. The largest numbers of furskins came from Belgium, Spain, Czech Republic, Portugal, and France.

US Imports of Live Rabbits/Hares and Rabbit/Hare Products, 1998 - 2000

Live Rabbits/Hares
(Number)

Rabbit/Hare Meat
(fresh or frozen)

Rabbit/Hare Furskins
(raw & tanned)

Quantity (number)

Value
(US $)

Quantity
(kg)

Value
(US $)

Quantity
(number)

Value
(US $)

2000

72,070

822,000

681,773

1,541,000

5,159,277

2,451,000

1999

56,160

655,000

304,358

657,000

4,127,424

1,935,000

1998

23,426

542,000

291,039

494,000

3,915,440

1,878,000

The US also imports other products of animal origin, where the type of animal is unspecified, from several countries with VHDR. Large suppliers to the US of "animal products chiefly used as food for animals or as ingredients in such food" include New Zealand, Australia, and China. These 3 countries combined exported over 54 million kg of this product to the US in 2000, valued at $29 million. China and New Zealand are also among the top US suppliers of "animal products not elsewhere specified or included, unfit for human consumption". The US imported about 105,000 kg of this product from these 2 countries in 2000, worth $770 thousand. Because China is by far the world’s leading rabbit producer, with 31% of the world’s rabbit meat production, it is possible that these unspecified animal products imported from China contain rabbit offal.

Source: World Trade Atlas; UN- FAO

Conclusions

The US exports small amounts of live rabbits, rabbit meat, and furskins. In 2000, the total value of these exports was $613,000, a major decrease from $1.7 million in 1999. Most live rabbits go to Canada, which does not have VHDR.

If Utah remains the only state in which the virus is found, the impact on the domestic industry will be small. Utah has only 1% of the US’ rabbit farms with 1% of the inventory. Thus, the supply of rabbits for meat, pelts, or research will not be significantly diminished. Since there are no major rabbit slaughter plants in Utah, processing capability will not be impacted either. Only 0.2% of all US rabbits used in research are used in Utah, therefore the potential to impact research would also be minimal.

As compared to segments of the livestock industry, the rabbit industry in the US is quite small, its value estimated at $25 million per year. However, this estimate of value does not take into account several factors. Rabbits are an important laboratory animal used in research programs; therefore, disruptions in the supply of rabbits could hamper research projects. Another factor this estimate does not take into account is the value, both monetary and emotional, of the pet and show rabbit industry.

If you have questions or would like to comment on this worksheet, please contact Chris Kopral at (970) 490-7819 or Ken Geter at (970) 490-7817 .

Appendix A - Establishments with Rabbits

State

Farms with Rabbits
(1997)

Research Facilities 1 (1999)

Breeders 2
(1999)

Dealers 2
(1999)

Exhibitors 2
(1999)

No. farms

No. rabbits

No. facilities

No. rabbits used

No. farms

No. rabbits

No. dealers

No. rabbits

No. ex- hibitors

No. rabbits

Alabama

127

3,544

9

2,045

2

67

3

86

6

14

Alaska

20

911

1

4

Arizona

56

1,670

5

892

1

5

2

17

Arkansas

235

24,559

6

1,657

1

67

6

31

California

517

94,953

115

50,541

2

24,400

4

3,539

37

175

Colorado

328

4,444

11

1,479

1

26

3

43

Connecticut

61

4,866

9

2,882

2

18

14

65

Delaware

21

306

6

4,241

2

7

1

11

Dist. of Columbia

8

1,290

Florida

266

17,038

9

1,491

3

756

5

712

8

91

Georgia

120

3,571

13

12,191

1

70

8

56

Hawaii

27

158

1

59

3

18

Idaho

214

5,085

3

80

1

30

4

10

Illinois

370

7,900

26

9,377

4

21

12

102

Indiana

357

9,345

13

2,678

1

23

3

17

10

75

Iowa

393

7,325

13

5,853

2

720

3

732

12

97

Kansas

275

4,168

7

1,607

8

61

5

23

Kentucky

391

6,558

4

1,708

3

12

Louisiana

121

5,857

6

2,706

2

169

1

6

2

6

Maine

97

3,400

3

182

4

38

Maryland

167

3,186

32

11,409

2

56

3

22

Massachusetts

95

10,247

47

11,495

1

3,934

1

457

7

30

Michigan

640

10,316

20

5,126

1

127

2

28

14

100

Minnesota

501

12,364

15

4,469

9

70

Mississippi

104

6,255

4

255

1

800

1

250

Missouri

481

27,350

19

4,711

3

2,000

7

260

13

83

Montana

162

1,632

4

632

1

2

Nebraska

192

2,187

10

3,465

1

2

Nevada

41

839

1

92

2

19

6

76

New Hampshire

79

1,072

4

369

3

13

New Jersey

181

3,237

30

23,038

1

680

3

2,194

4

16

New Mexico

123

2,308

4

44

1

13

3

8

New York

523

24,467

53

7,014

3

493

6

148

27

274

North Carolina

201

6,088

16

10,273

1

1,300

3

29

6

37

North Dakota

99

981

3

6

300

3

60

Ohio

728

14,091

29

20,023

4

59

8

137

Oklahoma

382

9,861

9

446

2

155

4

46

Oregon

480

26,201

8

680

1

5,500

4

9

4

13

Pennsylvania

605

27,075

43

37,027

2

26,080

6

1,935

22

101

Puerto Rico

4

68

Rhode Island

26

300

5

335

South Carolina

132

15,619

4

470

1

3

South Dakota

110

3,517

4

223

1

10

7

51

Tennessee

420

26,598

10

1,692

1

2

2

5

Texas

1,134

45,762

43

18,279

4

1,860

12

427

32

217

Utah

135

5,219

8

620

3

48

Vermont

65

2,571

2

127

1

545

1

369

Virginia

242

5,305

10

4,333

1

8

4

19

Washington

335

10,241

11

3,099

1

2,000

1

1

2

11

West Virginia

169

3,750

3

134

1

150

2

4

Wisconsin

687

14,855

11

4,505

1

496

2

32

19

150

Wyoming

85

1,037

2

26

Total

13,320

530,189

735

277,444

36

71,975

101

12,283

351

2,486

1 The number of rabbits is the number that was used in research in 1999

2 The number of rabbits is the inventory at last inspection

Sources: Farms with rabbits (columns 2 and 3) from USDA, NASS, 1997 Census of Agriculture;

All other data from USDA, APHIS, Animal Care



Additional Information