Mick- as a avid hunter, I will tell you with a high degree of confidence that there are no diseases in north American rabbits that can be transferred to humans if the meat is properly cared for (butchered relatively soon after kill, kept refrigerated, cooked soon or frozen, and MOST OF ALL…cooked thoroughly and at appropriate temperatures (USDA says 160 f degrees internal temp but honestly I think that is overkill and will make it tough). Nothing about that is complicated- just clean the rabbit soon after harvesting it, then cook it within the next day or two (soak in salt water in fridge) or freeze it. Then cook it all the way through- that is it. If you do that I absolutely assure you that you are safe to eat rabbit in the USA.
Now, someone may come along and try to tell you about the dangers of Tularemia (aka “rabbit fever”) but it is rarely transmitted to humans and as long as you cook the meat thoroughly it is IMPOSSIBLE to get it from eating a rabbit even you eat one that had the disease. Hundreds of thousands of people shoot and eat rabbits safely every year and so will you.
There is one thing I must warn you about if you harvest a rabbit this time of year. It is not likely BUT POSSIBLE that when you clean it you will find something people in the southeast call (for reasons I will never know) a rabbit “wolf worm”. It is a bot fly if you know what that is. Now, it has absolutely no impact on the health of the rabbit OR on you if you eat the rabbit. If there is one, it will be just below the skin, not “inside” the rabbit and I just throw them out with the skin and move on. But many people freak out so bad they can’t eat the rabbit and give up. haha. Resist the urge to google “rabbit wolf” or you will completely freak out and abandon the idea of eating a wild rabbit. haha (now you HAVE TO look, right?). Don’t worry, they aren’t very common and as much as they make you shiver, they are harmless).
The whole point in this response was to encourage you (and others) to kill and eat wild rabbits from your property. I fear I have undermined that effort by just mentioning things life wolf worms and Tularemia. I mainly did so because I figured someone would come along and warn of such things and I wanted to get the truth out first- and the truth is where I started: Handle the meat properly and it is safer than anything in your grocery store meat section (you know its fresh and how it has been treated and stored, it has no antibiotics or coloring or other additives, hasn’t been exposed and processed on tables and with equipment that can harbor pathogens, and so on.
The best thing I can do in my effort to promote the consumption of rabbits is just to tell you how wonderful it tastes and all the things you can make with it . So when you are done looking at the horrors of the wolf worm, please go ahead and google “rabbit recipes” as well! haha. Good luck.