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

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre was shut down during police incident Monday

Local artist explores Nanaimo’s old Chinatown in new video installation

Charlotte Zhang among eight artists in Nanaimo Art Gallery’s ‘Estuary’ exhibition starting this week

Three blocks of Bruce Avenue will be closed until fall

Work will include utility upgrades, new curbs and sidewalks and new on-street bike lanes

Nanaimo Clippers won’t be hosting 2021 national championships

Hockey Canada hasn’t announced successful bid, but has advised it won’t be Nanaimo

Nanaimo students pushing for youth-led climate advisory group

Group would be responsible for organizing community cleanups, meetings and other events

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

Silly Boat Regatta fills Nanaimo harbour with silly sailing

Island Red Cedar Construction wins this year’s race

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Nanaimo’s peewee girls win provincial lacrosse championship

Peewee B Timbermen defeat Coquitlam Adanacs 5-2 to win gold

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Mercury tops out on top of the world: Alert in Nunavut warmer than Victoria

It’s the latest anomaly in what’s been a long, hot summer across the Arctic

Most Read