Vaccine now available for deadly disease wiping out rabbits in BC

Blog: Bunny Ebola

First batch of rabbit disease vaccine made available

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

Eyal Lichtmann, executive director and CEO of the Regional Animal Protection Society in Richmond, spoke to Postmedia earlier this month after the disease spread to rabbits in his group's care.

At the time, Lichtmann said about 66 rabbits at RAPS would need to be euthanized to stop the spread of the disease.

In Richmond, according to media reports, the vaccine arrived too late to save the animals and the vaccine will be donated to low income people with rabbits as pets.

The Ministry of Agriculture ordered the vaccine from a manufacturer in France in March, following the first-ever B.C. diagnosis of the disease on Vancouver Island.

The vaccine is only available through this sole manufacturer and had to be imported through a specialized emergency-use federal-permitting process.

The first shipment included all the vaccines the manufacturer had available.

"This included 1,090 individual doses of the vaccine and 42 multi-dose vials that are being distributed to vet clinics that ordered it following cases of the disease in their area", said a news release issued Monday.

McDonald credited the quick action of staff who began to take steps to protect the rabbits - including Hazel who has been at the centre for three years - as soon as they heard about the disease. Well now it has arrived in Delta, the disease assaults the organs and blood vessels of the rabbits, causing a lack of co-ordination and bleeding through the nose resulting in agonizing pain and certain death. Most rabbits who are affected die suddenly. Once a rabbit is infected, signs appear quickly, usually within one to nine days.

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

20 of the 27 were feral rabbits. Two of the seven domestic rabbits tested positive.

Rabbits that tested negative were received from Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Mission, Surrey, Nanaimo, Parksville and Victoria.

Testing is underway on five additional rabbits that have been submitted for testing.

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