Vaccine now available for deadly disease wiping out rabbits in BC

Maricruz Casares
Abril 17, 2018

The Ministry of Agriculture ordered the vaccine from a French manufacturer in March after the highly contagious and deadly rabbit haemorrhagic disease was detected in B.C. for the first time ever last month.

The province said the vaccines will be distributed to 50 veterinary clinics that ordered it.

"It is also being distributed to clinics in other parts of B.C. that have clients who are concerned about protecting their rabbits from the quickly spreading disease".

"We're doing the best we can to ensure there's no way we these rabbits can catch it and the sheltering community we really keep in touch with each other", Andrea said, acknowledging that staff are upset to hear about what the Richmond shelter is going through.

There are now nine rabbits at the Coquitlam shelter and McDonald said they can be hard to adopt out while others who acquire them as pets when they are small often get rid of them when they get big due to their high needs.

Vaccinations for RHD were ordered by RAPS, but were "coming in too late", added Lichtmann.

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Pet owners should monitor their rabbits daily for signs of illness, and contact their vet immediately with any concerns. Seven were domestic rabbits.

The condition is caused by a calcivirus that causes blood vessels in the animals to suddenly rupture, and can not infect humans or other animals. In New Zealand and Australia rabbit hemorrhagic disease is used to kill populations of feral European rabbits that have no natural predators, domestic flies are used to spread the disease.

TRACS was responsible for the humane trapping of more than 800 rabbits off the streets of Kelowna in 2008.

A release from the province states that there is often bleeding from the nose at the time of death.

So far, rabbits that have tested positive for the disease have been in Comox, Courtenay, Delta, Nanaimo, Parksville and Richmond. Rabbits that tested negative were from Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Mission, Surrey, Nanaimo, Parksville and Victoria.

The BC SPCA is not accepting rabbits for adoption and more information about the disease can be found here.

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