Dr. Dilbag Rana injects a rabbit while Dan Watson holds the animal Tuesday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

VIDEO: Vets, volunteers set up vaccination station for sick bunnies

Volunteers, vets try to stop spread of lethal virus

Described as the “Ebola for bunnies,” a team of volunteers worked together in South Surrey Tuesday afternoon to get ahead of the lethal – and spreading – rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

An unusually large number of dead rabbits were found in parts of B.C., prompting a warning from the province back in March.

Four veterinarians and a group of volunteers set up an assembly line of rapid fire vaccinations at Urban Safari Rescue Society on 176 Street, catching, passing and vaccinating approximately 300 football-sized rabbits within a couple of hours.

Majority of the rabbits vaccinated Tuesday were Rabbitats Canada rabbits, however, active volunteers were allowed to bring their rabbits.

Rabbitats Canada founder Sorelle Saidman said the number of feral rabbit deaths is likely in the thousands, and that complete colonies have been wiped out since the disease was confirmed on Vancouver Island in February.

Vancouver Island University, known for its abundance of feral rabbits hoping about on its Nanaimo campus, has had its colony wiped out.

“I think there’s one bunny left alive, left out of hundreds,” Saidman told Peace Arch News.

Earlier this month, the Richmond Animal Shelter euthanized all 66 of its rabbits in care after several of its animals tested positive for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

The outbreak marks the first time the virus has been found in B.C. Saidman said the virus found locally is the same as one found in Spain, however, the virus in Spain had a 30- to 70- per cent mortality rate.

“The virus we are blessed with is killing 95 to 100 per cent of the rabbits it infects,” she said.

In order to prepare for the vaccination clinic, volunteers set up a quarantine zone and everyone entering was required to wear a full medical gown, protective boot covers and a hairnet.

The room where the volunteers administered the vaccinations was wrapped with plastic wrap. Saidman said even flies and mosquitoes can transfer the disease.

The disease is only known to affect rabbits. Other mammals, including humans, are considered safe.

The vaccine has been imported to B.C. from France by the provincial government. Saidman said it was a “colossal effort” to get the drug, as it is an emergency drug import.

“The amount of paperwork, the amount of red tape and the amount of cost has been incredible, but the provincial government stepped in and they have taken the part of the distributor,” she said.

The vaccine has been distributed to 52 vets in the province.

“Now, what will happen, is there will be for sure one more order put in. Basically, British Columbia took every last drop of the vaccine that the company in France had. They’re busy manufacturing more.”

Dr. Veronica Gventsadze, who spoke to PAN Tuesday while she was continuously refilling syringes with the vaccine, said she has never seen anything like this before in her 10 years as a veterinarian.

“Not really no, because the virus is brand new to British Columbia and so is the vaccination of rabbits, which has never been done before.”

She said rabbit owners should “absolutely” get their pet vaccinated.

“But once you do, do not relax your bio-security vigilance,” Gventsadze said.

Rabbit owners can contact their veterinarians to learn how to receive the vaccination.

Other veterinarians that participated in Tuesday’s vaccination exercise include Drs. Dilbag Rana, Joseph Martinez and Adam Avitan.

 

Rabbits waiting to be vaccinated at Urban Safari Rescue Society in South Surrey on Tuesday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Just Posted

Port Alberni’s Walk for Dog Guides has a new look, new route

Bosley’s comes on board as sponsor for May 27 event

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are past: Coulson

The famed Martin Mars air tankers continue to draw interest from potential… Continue reading

Alberni RCMP officers honoured for taking drunk driver off the streets

Constables Brian Kenny, Rob Jackson named to Alexa’s Team

Port Alberni man dies in single-vehicle collision

Pickup truck with three occupants went off the road on first day of May long weekend

Alberni hosts Island track and field championship

Secondary schools compete at Bob Dailey Stadium

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

B.C. sues Alberta over bill that could ‘turn oil taps off’

Lawsuit is the latest move in the two provinces’ ongoing feud over the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Liberal government introduces measures to update Canada’s family laws

Justice officials say there have not been substantial updates to federal family laws in 20 years

B.C. mom threatens legal action against sunscreen company

Caleb Jordan, 6, was covered in blisters 20 minutes after using Banana Boat sunscreen

BC Games Society president to step down

Kelly Mann says it’s time for a change after 26 years with the society

B.C. politicians framed by anonymous sticky-note doodler

Insider has been posting caricatures from the B.C. legislature to social media

27 years since initial police probe, polygamist leader to be sentenced in June

Prosecutor recommend up to 6 months jail, defence asks for conditional or absolute discharge

Governments kick in cash for B.C. farmers, food processors

Ottawa, Victoria contribute $14 million over five years to help develop new products, processes

UBC professor claims victory at B.C. car race

A physics engineering professor had the fastest time during Kelowna hill climb race

Most Read