Warnings issued after rabbit disease resurfaces

The Delta Community Animal Shelter continues to monitor and will act accordingly should the reappearance on Vancouver Island of the deadly rabbit disease that swept across the Lower Mainland last spring presents itself again in Delta.

The provincial government and the BC SPCA issued warnings last week that the rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) has resurfaced in the Parksville area, with four rabbits dying from the highly infectious virus.

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B.C.’s chief veterinary officer Jane Pritchard has recommended owners vaccinate pet and domestic rabbits.

The virus, which causes death within 36 hours, killed hundreds of rabbits last year across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland with cases showing up in the Delta area.

“At this point we are not doing anything different. When we receive a rabbit at the shelter we do a full assessment and will quarantine them and get them vaccinated,” said shelter manager Ryan Voutilainen.

“The big thing is making sure owners are keeping their pets indoors and doing proper cleaning and bio-security so they don’t bring it in from outside.”

Voutilainen said any rabbit owners with concerns can contact the shelter for information and advice at 604-940-7111.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said the source of the virus is unknown and veterinarians in her ministry are monitoring the highly infectious and deadly disease.

Pritchard said the best precaution against the disease for pet owners and commercial rabbit breeders is to vaccinate their animals. The virus only affects European rabbits and is not known to affect native North American breeds, she said.

It also does not affect dogs, cats, other pets or humans, said Pritchard.

Pritchard said rabbit owners should keep their pet areas clean and ensure they do not expose their animals to materials from areas where feral rabbits might have been.

They should monitor their rabbits daily for signs of illness and contact a veterinarian with any concerns.

With files from Richmond News




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