The B.C. government is warning rabbit owners in Nanaimo after three dead, feral rabbits were found to have a virus. (News Bulletin file)

UPDATED: Rabbit owners in the region warned about deadly virus

Disease said to be caused by calicivirus. Nanaimo B.C. SPCA suspends rabbit intake.

The B.C. government is warning rabbit owners in Nanaimo and the mid-Island area to be cautious after a large number of dead rabbits were found in the Vancouver Island University area.

An unusually large number of dead rabbits were found around Vancouver Island University and Rotary Bowl stadium Tuesday, with the university, Nanaimo Animal Control Services and B.C. SPCA looking into the matter.

RELATED: A dozen dead rabbits discovered at Rotary Bowl

In a press release issued Friday, March 2, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said three of the rabbits were tested and found to have “rabbit haemorrhagic disease, caused by a calicivirus.”

It is suspected other rabbits died of the same cause and more rabbits will undergo testing in the coming days.

“Rabbit haemorrhagic disease is an extremely infectious and lethal disease of rabbits,” said the press release. “It is the third confirmed diagnosis of this virus in Canada, and the first in British Columbia. The disease is exclusive to rabbits. Other animals, including dogs and cats, cannot be infected.”

Humans are not at risk either, the ministry said, but it also recommends not releasing domestic rabbits into the wild at any time.

“As well, rabbit owners should take precautions when disposing of any rabbit remains, and contact their veterinarian for more information. Rabbit calicivirus is a pathogen, which affects only European rabbits, not native rabbits,” the ministry said.

Leon Davis, Nanaimo B.C. SPCA branch manager, recommends not picking up any dead rabbits and instead, people should call animal control services. In light of the situation, Nanaimo SPCA will not accept rabbits for the time being.

“We’re pausing intakes of surrenders of rabbits into the shelter for now, unless it’s an emergency or a cruelty investigation,” said Davis. “I think we’re just monitoring the situation and we’re taking advice from the ministry because this is a nationally reportable disease.”

If people living within Nanaimo city limits see any dead rabbits, they should contact Nanaimo Animal Control Services at 250-616-0233, according to Carley Colclough, control services’ pound coordinator.

The Regional District of Nanaimo said rural-area residents finding dead rabbits should contact the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Just Posted

Departure Bay school parents concerned about rotating learning space

Eco-school students being taught in library and picnic areas, say parents

Tilray to export cannabis formulation to U.S. for clinical trial

Marijuana remains illegal in most of the U.S.

District of Lantzville adopts new logo

Logo features sea glass in shape of wave and the slogan ‘Love life here’

Attorney general takes Nanaimo councillor to court over release of confidential documents

Coun. Gord Fuller and three other Nanaimo citizens named in Supreme Court petition

Council reverses past practice, will broadcast meetings during election campaign

Nanaimo city council votes 5-4 to continue with broadcasts

Local violinist Ray Chin performs at the Nanaimo Arts Council

Concert to feature a varied selection of compositions

Candidate lists finalized for Nanaimo, Lantzville, RDN, school district

Nomination deadline passes in advance of Oct. 20 local government elections

Porsche and Subaru dealerships can proceed with planning in north Nanaimo

City council unanimously allows rezoning application process to move forward

Food bank collects fixings for Thanksgiving dinners

Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank held its Thanksgiving Food Drive on Saturday in Nanaimo

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

Most Read