Black Press file photo.

Dead rabbits found at Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds stoke concerns about Nanaimo virus

A B.C. wildlife veterinarian says a few of the dead bunnies will be sent for diagnosis next week.

A spate of reported dead rabbits in the Comox Valley has some residents concerned that a rare bunny virus recently discovered in Nanaimo has made its way up-Island.

Multiple Courtenay residents have claimed they noticed feral rabbit carcasses this week at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds. Others stated they noticed a recent drop in the area’s usually high bunny population.

The BC SPCA Comox Valley & District Branch made a post about the issue on its Facebook page March 14, asking residents if they had seen deceased rabbits.

The groundskeeper at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds said he’d picked up some dead rabbits lately but was hesitant to say if it was a higher amount than usual. He said he is instructed to bag any dead bunnies he finds in the future so they can be sent off for tests.

Comox Valley resident Debbie MacKay told Black Press she also noticed a lack of rabbits at the fairgrounds this week.

“I live [near] the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds and have found numerous dead rabbits over the last week with no obvious signs of injury,” she wrote in an email. “There used to be 40 to 50 rabbits on the 40 acres of ground, now only two or three.”

Concern among Valley residents is likely due to a recent virus affecting Nanaimo’s rabbit population.

Read More: Virus killing rabbits on central Vancouver Island

In early March, the B.C. government issued a warning to pet rabbit owners on central Vancouver Island after an estimated 300 feral rabbits were found dead throughout Nanaimo.

Some of the rabbits were sent to the Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford, where tests found they had developed a rare and lethal virus called rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

The highly contagious virus causes a fever, convulsions, and kills rabbits within 36 hours.

“It is the third confirmed diagnosis of this virus in Canada, and the first in British Columbia,” reads a March 2 press release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development.

The ministry says the disease is exclusive to rabbits and that other animals — including dogs and cats — cannot be infected.

Helen Schwantje, a provincial wildlife veterinarian, confirmed that a few rabbit carcasses from the Comox Valley are being sent for testing early next week.

“Any freshly dead animals, if we can retain them or submit them to the lab for confirmatory testing… until then, I suggest people practise good hygiene,” she said.

“I think the groundskeeper has done a great job so far by picking up the carcasses.”

—With files from Karl Yu/Nanaimo News Bulletin

Just Posted

Parksville council, staff debate homeless camping in public spaces

‘We are in a fine balancing act right now’

Offenders work to repair harm through restorative justice process

The Arrowsmith Community Justice Society says process is alternative to court system

‘Dramatic undersupply’ of workers in Parksville Qualicum Beach: new labour report

Analysis supports what many already know, reinforces need for action: Burden

Outreach group ordered to stop feeding homeless on City of Parksville property

City issued Manna Homeless Society cease and desist order after complaints from public

VIDEO: E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce sickens 18 people in Ontario, Quebec

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it’s working with U.S. authorities to determine the source of the romaine lettuce those who got ill were exposed to.

Lower Mainland suspect identified in fatal northern B.C. hit and run

Suspect and seven other individuals believed involved located on Haida Gwaii

‘Bait and switch’ warning ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Competition Bureau of Canada is warning shoppers of illegal sale tactics

Mount Washington Alpine Resort targeting Dec. 7 opening date

Major snowfall in the forecast for this week

Legal battle ahead for suspended B.C. legislature executives

Public removal ‘very unfair,’ says veteran clerk Craig James

B.C. sees biggest spike in homicides across Canada, at 34%

Much of the killing was attributed to gang violence, according to Statistics Canada

Sea lion tangled in rope on Vancouver Island

Marine debris is a ‘significant problem’ for marine wildlife

Postal strike affects charities at critical fundraising time

Canadian fundraising professionals and charities join call for fast resolution

$90,000 pen from space created by B.C man

The Space pen is made from a meteorite

Most Read