Virus threatens BC rabbit population

Rabbit owners in BC are on high alert after an airborne virus killed hundreds of rabbits in Nanaimo last month.

“It’s called Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease, it’s an airborne virus,” says Antoinette Monod, President of the Warren Peace Rabbit Sanctuary in Lake Country. “It doesn’t really show any symptoms, and that’s a problem. It has the 1-3 day incubation period, and then within the next 48 hours, the bunny dies, and it’s from internal hemorrhaging.”

In addition to pet owners taking precautions, places like the Bunny Sanctuary have also been preparing in case the virus comes to the Okanagan.

“We’re closed temporarily just to the public,” says Sanctuary President Antoinette Monod. “It is a huge concern for people, especially like me, because we have around 300 bunnies. If the virus gets here in five days, I could have no bunnies.”

Pet owners are asked to quarantine their rabbits inside their homes for the time being, and to keep their homes clear of any insects, such as flies or mosquitoes, which could be carrying the virus.

A vaccine for Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease is currently being developed in France, and could be shipped to the most at-risk regions for the virus within the next two weeks.