Highly infectious virus found in four feral rabbits in Parksville area. -Black Press file photo

Four rabbits dead as ‘extremely infectious’ virus returns to Vancouver Island

Four feral rabbits die near Parksville from rabbit hemorrhagic disease that swept area last year

  • Apr. 10, 2019 8:59 a.m.

Rabbit owners in the mid-Island area are being advised to take precautions with their pet rabbits after the death of four feral rabbits in Parksville

According to a news release Wednesday from the Ministry of Agriculture, testing has confirmed the presence of rabbit hemorrhagic disease, caused by a calicivirus. It is the second year in a row the virus has been found in mid-Island rabbits, but the source is unknown.

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease is an extremely infectious and lethal disease that is exclusive to rabbits. Humans and other animals, including dogs and cats, cannot be infected. The strain of the virus seen last year only affects European rabbits and is not known to affect native North American rabbits.

RELATED: Rabbit owners urged to request vaccine for their pets, to protect against RHD

Pet owners should monitor their rabbits daily for signs of illness and contact their veterinarian immediately with any concerns.

The virus causes hemorrhages by affecting the blood vessels and attacks the liver and other organs. Most affected rabbits die suddenly, but can show signs of listlessness, lack of co-ordination, behaviour changes or trouble breathing before death. There is often bleeding from the nose at the time of death.

Once infected, signs of illness occur quickly – usually within one to nine days.

While there is no threat to humans, rabbit owners should avoid bringing the virus home by practising excellent hygiene when handling their animals and staying away from areas where the disease has occurred.

RELATED: Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Rabbit owners who want more information about how to keep their pets safe can consult with their veterinarian regarding vaccinations and review an SPCA fact sheet on rabbit hemorrhagic disease at: http://spca.bc.ca/news/bc-spca-suspends-intake-of-rabbits-due-to-disease/.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Cleanup event helps Tofino’s shorebird habitats

“These birds shouldn’t be using plastic and marine debris to build their nests.”

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Tofino and Ucluelet raise over $185K for hospital

“It’s a statement of our town’s values and what makes it so special to live here.”

Fisheries Department announces conservation measures to protect chinook in B.C.

Urgent protection measures include closure of a commercial fishery involving seven endangered stock

Funding to help Tofino’s seniors ‘age in place’

“Seniors are a vibrant and important part of our community.”

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

B.C. senior sentenced for sexually abusing special-needs granddaughter

73-year-old Cortes Island man will go to jail for three years

Howe Sound Queen sailing toward retirement

Vessel now up for auction ends regular runs between Crofton and Vesuvius at the beginning of June

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Most Read