About a month ago, my youngest son found a dead rabbit in the woods while camping and brought me to the spot to show it. The rabbit looked like it had just died and didn't show any obvious cause of death.

Even though denying having touched it, I made him wash his hands since I suspected he might have touched it nonetheless. I reiterated never to touch dead animals found in the woods.

He later admitted having petted it briefly.

Are there any diseases that could have been transmitted through the brief fur to skin contact? Any ones that I still need to worry about?

This is in The Netherlands, more specifically in the province of Zeeland.


1 Answer 1


To answer the title question, there are a number of diseases you can get from wild rabbits,

Zoonotic diseases specifically associated with rabbits include pasteurellosis, ringworm, mycobacteriosis, cryptosporidiosis and external parasites.

Rabbits can transmit bacteria through bites and scratches. One of the common agents involved is Pasteurella multocida, a bacterium that resides in the oral cavity and upper respiratory tract of rabbits. Human infection is generally characterized by local inflammation with occasional abscess formation and ascending infection.

Zoonoses Associated with Rabbits

Regarding ticks and fleas,

but the species of fleas and ticks typically found on rabbits rarely bite humans, and the risk of transmission of zoonotic disease from rabbits to humans via such bites is considered low.

Zoonotic Diseases Of Rabbits

There is also a longer list of diseases here including Mange, Rabies (possible but never recorded) and Tularemia.

At the same time, it would seem that the risk is rather low as people hunt and handle rabbits from time to time.

  • I was thinking of tularemia as well (it is also called Hasenpest literally hare plague in German). Very rare (but the official statistic says there's probably a large proportion of unreported [un/misdiagnosed] cases), but also highly infectious and severe. Typically a few days to 2 weeks until symptoms develop (so by now: should be fine), symptoms can be rather unspecific flu-like general infection symptoms, so if developing severe general infection symptoms after contact with a dead rabbit => mention that contact to the doctor. Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 23:53

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