Rabbit haemorrhagic disease confirmed in the Comox Valley

The virus has also been confirmed in Nanaimo and Delta

The B.C. government has confirmed that dead feral rabbits found in the Comox Valley died of rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

The disease was first confirmed in Nanaimo in late February, where more than 300 feral rabbit carcasses were discovered near the Vancouver Island University campus. The bunnies were sent to the Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford, where it was confirmed they had developed rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

The highly contagious and lethal virus causes hemorrhages by affecting the rabbits’ blood vessels and attacking the liver and other organs.

Dead rabbits found in Delta were later confirmed to have had died from the same virus.

Read More: Province warning rabbit owners after confirmed cases of deadly virus

Residents in Courtenay, (located about 100 kilometres north of Nanaimo), reported a spate dead rabbit sightings near the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds two weeks ago, stoking concerns that the virus discovered in Nanaimo had moved up-Island.

Read More: Dead rabbits found at Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds stoke concerns

Jane Pritchard, the chief veterinary officer for the B.C. government and the executive director of the Plant and Animal Health Branch, says the virus is highly contagious to rabbits.

“We knew it was very contagious when we had the first confirmation, so it’s really not a surprise that it’s moved,” she said. “It certainly is a mystery how it’s moved, as Nanaimo and Comox aren’t exactly side-by-side.”

According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, this is the third confirmed case of the virus and the first in B.C.

“The disease is exclusive to rabbits,” reads a FLNRORD press release on March 28. “Humans and other animals, including dogs and cats, cannot be infected. The virus affects only European rabbits, and is not known to affect native North American rabbits.”

Pritchard noted that B.C. veterinarians will have access to vaccinations for the disease in the coming weeks, and will be able to vaccinate pet rabbits.

“There will be a vaccine coming in from France that provides some protection against the strain two of the virus that we have detected. [Pet rabbit owners] should probably be consulting with their veterinarian over the possibility of vaccination as protection,” she said.

While there is no threat to humans, in addition to rabbit owners taking precautions, the public is advised not to move domestic rabbits into the wild at any time.

As well, rabbit owners should take precautions when disposing of any rabbit remains.

Rabbit owners who want more information about how to keep their pets safe can consult with their veterinarian, or review an SPCA factsheet on rabbit hemorrhagic disease here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

North Island Elementary students published in short story collection

Five Fort Rupert Elementary students are now bonafide authors

MP asks Minister of Transport for review of safe crew levels on new ferries

The new ferries were approved to run with smaller crew sizes, raising safety concerns

$8,179,919 in grant funding announced for North Island communities

This local funding is part of over $228 million in grants going to B.C. communities.

Port Hardy earns Bear Smart certification

Community committed to living safely alongside bears

Funding police would be ‘most expensive single budget item we would have’ says Port Hardy councillor

‘we’re not panicking — I can’t see our population numbers jumping up that high that quick’

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read