Local SPCAs are taking note of a highly infectious virus affecting feral rabbits in B.C.
Elizabeth Dighton is the Branch Manager of the Williams Lake and District SPCA that currently has some rabbits available for adoption.
“We’ve actually closed the room right now and we are limiting people going in there,” she says.
“We’re asking if they have been down to the Lower Mainland in the last few days just to reduce any possibility in spreading that horrible disease.”
Recent testing carried out on dead feral rabbits in Nanaimo and Delta has confirmed the presence of rabbit hemorrhagic disease.
The Province said in a news release that dead rabbits found in the Comox Valley are being shipped to the provincial lab for testing.
The disease caused by a calicivirus 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 coordination, behavior changes or trouble breathing before death. Once infected, signs of illness occur quickly, usually within one to nine days.
“While there is no threat to humans, and in addition to rabbit owners taking precautions, the public is advised not to move domestic rabbits into the wild at any time,” said the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
The BC SPCA has temporarily suspended intake of rabbits into all Island and Lower Mainland shelters until the extent of the outbreak is known