Dr. Dilbag Rana injects a rabbit while Dan Watson holds the animal Tuesday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

VIDEO: Vets, volunteers set up vaccination station for sick bunnies

Volunteers, vets try to stop spread of lethal virus

Described as the “Ebola for bunnies,” a team of volunteers worked together in South Surrey Tuesday afternoon to get ahead of the lethal – and spreading – rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

An unusually large number of dead rabbits were found in parts of B.C., prompting a warning from the province back in March.

Four veterinarians and a group of volunteers set up an assembly line of rapid fire vaccinations at Urban Safari Rescue Society on 176 Street, catching, passing and vaccinating approximately 300 football-sized rabbits within a couple of hours.

Majority of the rabbits vaccinated Tuesday were Rabbitats Canada rabbits, however, active volunteers were allowed to bring their rabbits.

Rabbitats Canada founder Sorelle Saidman said the number of feral rabbit deaths is likely in the thousands, and that complete colonies have been wiped out since the disease was confirmed on Vancouver Island in February.

Vancouver Island University, known for its abundance of feral rabbits hoping about on its Nanaimo campus, has had its colony wiped out.

“I think there’s one bunny left alive, left out of hundreds,” Saidman told Peace Arch News.

Earlier this month, the Richmond Animal Shelter euthanized all 66 of its rabbits in care after several of its animals tested positive for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

The outbreak marks the first time the virus has been found in B.C. Saidman said the virus found locally is the same as one found in Spain, however, the virus in Spain had a 30- to 70- per cent mortality rate.

“The virus we are blessed with is killing 95 to 100 per cent of the rabbits it infects,” she said.

In order to prepare for the vaccination clinic, volunteers set up a quarantine zone and everyone entering was required to wear a full medical gown, protective boot covers and a hairnet.

The room where the volunteers administered the vaccinations was wrapped with plastic wrap. Saidman said even flies and mosquitoes can transfer the disease.

The disease is only known to affect rabbits. Other mammals, including humans, are considered safe.

The vaccine has been imported to B.C. from France by the provincial government. Saidman said it was a “colossal effort” to get the drug, as it is an emergency drug import.

“The amount of paperwork, the amount of red tape and the amount of cost has been incredible, but the provincial government stepped in and they have taken the part of the distributor,” she said.

The vaccine has been distributed to 52 vets in the province.

“Now, what will happen, is there will be for sure one more order put in. Basically, British Columbia took every last drop of the vaccine that the company in France had. They’re busy manufacturing more.”

Dr. Veronica Gventsadze, who spoke to PAN Tuesday while she was continuously refilling syringes with the vaccine, said she has never seen anything like this before in her 10 years as a veterinarian.

“Not really no, because the virus is brand new to British Columbia and so is the vaccination of rabbits, which has never been done before.”

She said rabbit owners should “absolutely” get their pet vaccinated.

“But once you do, do not relax your bio-security vigilance,” Gventsadze said.

Rabbit owners can contact their veterinarians to learn how to receive the vaccination.

Other veterinarians that participated in Tuesday’s vaccination exercise include Drs. Dilbag Rana, Joseph Martinez and Adam Avitan.

 

Rabbits waiting to be vaccinated at Urban Safari Rescue Society in South Surrey on Tuesday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Just Posted

VIDEO: North Island Atom Eagles tie Victoria Ice Hawks, fall in rematch

The North Island Atom Eagles will be back in league play action at home in January.

Strong winds expected to hit north, west Vancouver Island: Environment Canada

Environment Canada said southeast winds will reach speeds of 70 to 90 kilometres per hour

Town of Port McNeill hesitates on replacing harbour’s dock and ramp

“The danger is the longer we hold on to awarding the bid, the closer we get to the tourist season”

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

Property assessments to rise again on Vancouver Island

Some areas could see their assessments spike as much as 20 per cent

VIDEO: This B.C. school leads country in vaccine donations to UNICEF

Federally funded Kids Boost Immunity uses quizzes to earn vaccinations

B.C. police stop drunk driver who offered up burger instead of ID

Roadblock checks over the weekend found at least two other impaired drivers

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

Canadians spent $1.7 billion dollars online in December 2017

Online retail sales accounted for 3.4 per cent of total retail sales

2-year investigations nets $900,000 in refunds for payday loan customers

Consumer Protection BC says selling practices were ‘aggressive and deceptive’

China: Canada’s detention of Huawei exec ‘vile in nature’

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet company

Upset student causes safety plan to be enacted at Island Elementary School

Child’s behaviour results in students being held in classrooms until order restored

Most Read