Black Press file photo.

Dead rabbits found at Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds stoke concerns about Nanaimo virus

A B.C. wildlife veterinarian says a few of the dead bunnies will be sent for diagnosis next week.

A spate of reported dead rabbits in the Comox Valley has some residents concerned that a rare bunny virus recently discovered in Nanaimo has made its way up-Island.

Multiple Courtenay residents have claimed they noticed feral rabbit carcasses this week at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds. Others stated they noticed a recent drop in the area’s usually high bunny population.

The BC SPCA Comox Valley & District Branch made a post about the issue on its Facebook page March 14, asking residents if they had seen deceased rabbits.

The groundskeeper at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds said he’d picked up some dead rabbits lately but was hesitant to say if it was a higher amount than usual. He said he is instructed to bag any dead bunnies he finds in the future so they can be sent off for tests.

Comox Valley resident Debbie MacKay told Black Press she also noticed a lack of rabbits at the fairgrounds this week.

“I live [near] the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds and have found numerous dead rabbits over the last week with no obvious signs of injury,” she wrote in an email. “There used to be 40 to 50 rabbits on the 40 acres of ground, now only two or three.”

Concern among Valley residents is likely due to a recent virus affecting Nanaimo’s rabbit population.

Read More: Virus killing rabbits on central Vancouver Island

In early March, the B.C. government issued a warning to pet rabbit owners on central Vancouver Island after an estimated 300 feral rabbits were found dead throughout Nanaimo.

Some of the rabbits were sent to the Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford, where tests found they had developed a rare and lethal virus called rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

The highly contagious virus causes a fever, convulsions, and kills rabbits within 36 hours.

“It is the third confirmed diagnosis of this virus in Canada, and the first in British Columbia,” reads a March 2 press release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development.

The ministry says the disease is exclusive to rabbits and that other animals — including dogs and cats — cannot be infected.

Helen Schwantje, a provincial wildlife veterinarian, confirmed that a few rabbit carcasses from the Comox Valley are being sent for testing early next week.

“Any freshly dead animals, if we can retain them or submit them to the lab for confirmatory testing… until then, I suggest people practise good hygiene,” she said.

“I think the groundskeeper has done a great job so far by picking up the carcasses.”

—With files from Karl Yu/Nanaimo News Bulletin

Just Posted

City of Nanaimo planning to build new boathouse at Long Lake by 2023

$1.35-$2-million project would be used by local rowing, canoe and kayak clubs

Lantzville’s Pottie ‘walking away’ from derelict hotel in Port Alberni after one week

WorkSafe B.C. issues stop work order; owner says cost to continue too high

UPDATE: Scooter rider suffers life-threatening injuries in crash in Nanaimo

One person airlifted to hospital in Victoria after collision on Wall Street on Thursday

VIU students in Nanaimo have been busy creating haven for bees

Peace garden and program to protect pollinators providing new educational opportunities

Beefs & Bouquets, Oct. 17

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

UPDATE: Scooter rider suffers life-threatening injuries in crash in Nanaimo

One person airlifted to hospital in Victoria after collision on Wall Street on Thursday

Sailings cancelled between Brentwood Bay and Mill Bay

Mechanical issues expected to be resolved by end of day

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Campbell River homicide suspects arrested in Vancouver

Two men remain in custody, but have not been charged

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

Most Read