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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Metchosin to test tsunami notification on Thursday evening

Approximately 80 to 100 residents in tsunami-zone

Public tips lead to arrest in alleged random assault on Victoria bus

June 19 incident was recorded by onboard camera

Sooke Fine Art Show gears up for July 24 launch

Virtual event to feature more than 375 juried works from local artists

Sooke Crisis Centre closes doors

Services previously offered to be dispersed throughout community support groups

Sidney asking tourists to respect health guidelines

Messaging says Sidney is ‘excited to welcome smart, safe, and respectful visits’

VIDEO: Victoria’s Raging Grannies call for end to public funding of for-profit senior homes

Organizer says COVID-19 has made senior home issues more apparent

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Most Read