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

Just Posted

Canada can lead the way to save sharks from extinction, says fisheries expert

“Combined with fishing extraction numbers, sharks experience huge losses in the environment.”

Five Vancouver Island First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Infamous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and other destinations

Bear trapped and killed near Tofino-Ucluelet

“This bear just was not leaving humans alone,” said Conservation Officer Andrew Riddell.

Fire restrictions in Tofino and Ucluelet

“It is visitors and residents alike that struggle with this one on a yearly basis.”

STANDING TALL: For some, B.C.’s forest industry is the best office in the world

A look at the forest sector in B.C. – and those hoping for the best – amid mill curtailments

Feds offer ‘life preserver’ funds to BC Ferries as pandemic sinks revenue

For every dollar the province spends the federal government will match

Reimagined campaign continues to make Vancouver Island wishes come true

#UnWinedOutside allows participants to support Make-A-Wish Foundation, local businesses

Bad behaviour at B.C. restaurants ignites campaign calling for respect

“If you can’t follow the rules, then stay home,” says BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Addition pending to Cape Scott Provincial Park?

BC Parks will wait before announcing plans for nearly $1 million old growth land purchase

Frustration mounts as Metchosin sheep slaughter continues

Metchosin mayor upset with B.C. Conservation’s response as bear feeds on farm animals

Over half of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum: survey

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans

Oh baby, what a birthday gift: $2.8M raised to help B.C. boy with rare disease

‘We are very thankful to everybody,’ Aryan Deol’s father says

‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

North Shore Black Bear Society said it was local residents who created a ‘death sentence’ for bear

Most Read