Rabbit owners are advised to continue exercising caution as there have been more confirmed cases of rabbit haemorrhagic disease. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo animal control says 300 dead rabbits recovered

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

With more confirmed cases of a lethal rabbit virus in the Nanaimo area, experts are advising bunny owners to continue being cautious.

In late February, Nanaimo Animal Control Services recovered a larger-than-usual number of dead rabbits in the Rotary Bowl and Vancouver Island University area. On March 2, the B.C. government issued a release warning of the “rabbit haemorrhagic disease, caused by a calicivirus.”

The disease affects rabbits only, not other animals, and the occurrence in Nanaimo is the first in the province and only the third ever diagnosis in Canada.

Carley Colclough, Nanaimo Animal Control Services’ pound coordinator, said there has been a marked increase in dead rabbits, with reports around the Westwood Road area, Maffeo Sutton Park and the hospital. Approximately 300 dead rabbits have been picked up by animal control, Colclough said.

In all, six rabbits from the Nanaimo area were submitted by the province for testing and all died due to the virus, said Helen Schwantje, wildlife veterinarian with the ministry of forests. She said the virus is native to domestic rabbits of European origin and pet rabbits are at risk.

“The majority of pet rabbits are domestic rabbits of European extraction and they are definitely very sensitive to it so people with pet rabbits need to practise really, really good biosecurity, proper hygiene,” said Schwantje. “The virus is transmitted by close contact either through feces, through some kind of body excretion, saliva, it can exist in the environment for quite some time.

“So a dead rabbit decomposing on the soil can keep that virus in the environment for some period of time, so that’s why good hygiene is important. If people are walking … get some rabbit poop on their feet and then go home and handle their own rabbit, that’s a potential risk. I would be very careful if I had a domestic rabbit.”

It is not recommended people release domestic rabbits into the wild, Schwantje said.

Schwantje said there are veterinarians looking to import a vaccine, but she estimates it will take a few weeks to arrive and it is not foolproof.

Dead rabbits have been found in the Comox Valley area and while the disease is a possibility, Schwantje said none of those rabbits have been tested yet.

“It’s really disturbing that, if this is haemorrhagic disease virus, that it’s jumped from one community to another,” said Schwantje. “That shouldn’t really be happening. That is very concerning to me.”

Colclough recommends anyone finding dead rabbits within city limits call Nanaimo Animal Control Services.

Leon Davis, Nanaimo and District SPCA branch manager, said a moratorium on submission of rabbits at the Nanaimo facility is still in effect.

Symptoms are said to include loss of appetite and spasms.

The animal control services number is 250-616-0233.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Just Posted

Nanaimo’s École Hammond Bay school unveils new gym expansion

Larger gym can accommodate home games and assemblies

Nanaimo couple fights for their lives together

Richard Stuart needs a kidney, his wife Tracy has been diagnosed with cancer

Nanaimo city councillors to eliminate committee of the whole meetings

COW meetings would be replaced with new committee

Nanaimo nature club wants more members

Nature Nanaimo wants to grow membership to expand activities and projects

Kw’umut Lelum hosts grand opening of new Nanaimo office

Nanaimo centre will serve urban families from nine First Nations

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Beefs & Bouquets, Jan. 17

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

Nanaimo Women March On with a message that matters

A range of voices will lead the conversation at Jan. 19 event downtown

Ferry from Port Hardy to Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

RECALL: Salmon Village maple salmon nuggets

Customers warned not to eat product due to possible Listeria contamination

More than 100,000 toxic toys named in Canada-wide recall

Plastic doll contains levels of phthalates over allowable limit and may pose chemical hazard

Letters on way to all homeowners in B.C. speculation tax communities

Property owners have to register to avoid vacant-home tax

Seniors’ living facility pitched near Nanaimo’s Long Lake

Proposed 160-unit seniors’ development would be built at 4979 Wills Rd.

‘Nanaimo is next’ for urgent primary care centre

B.C. Health Minister says new centre coming in next few months

Most Read