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

VIDEO: Next up on ‘World of Dance’: Vancouver Island’s Funkanometry faces ‘The Cut’

Fans of Funkanometry: the Vancouver Island hip hop duo that have reached… Continue reading

Andrea Rondeau column: Why the Notre Dame fire touched us all

None of us could look away from the sight of the fire

U17 Gold boys finish second after delayed Island final

Cowichan edged out in penalty kicks

Sarah Simpson column: Hang on for the sunrise

Last weekend my son and I found ourselves alone on Maple Bay… Continue reading

Academic honours for Duncan Christian grads

Groenendijks add to national medals

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Coming up in Cowichan: Easter Eggspress; knitting workshops

Hop aboard the Easter Eggspress at the BCFDC The Easter Eggspress is… Continue reading

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read