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.

Just Posted

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

Two-woman crime spree comes to Nelson Library

Authors Rachel Greenaway and Judy Toews talk crime writing on Sept. 29

Kaslo mayor to run for re-election

Suzan Hewat says she has many projects to finish

Participation by women in West Kootenay/Boundary elections up slightly

More running than in 2014, but about same number as 2011

VIDEO: Monday Roundup

The Star’s weekly news roundup

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Cyclists finish North America trip to highlight Ukraine struggle

The 10,000 bike ride raised over $10,000 for victims of the war in Ukraine.

21 new paramedics promised for B.C. Interior

A total of 18 new full-time paramedics will be hired for Kamloops and three are being hired for Chase.

Federal stats show slight increase in irregular migrant claims in August

113 extra people tried to cross the Canadian border last month

Work begins to remove cargo from grounded Haida Gwaii barge and fishing lodge

Westcoast Resorts’ Hippa Lodge broke from its moorings and ran aground early this month

Tilray to export cannabis formulation to U.S. for clinical trial

Marijuana remains illegal in most of the U.S.

Court of appeal grants injunction on Taseko’s exploratory drilling in B.C. Interior

The decision provides temporary protection and relief, said Chief Joe Alphonse

Most Read