Vaccine against deadly rabbit virus arrives in B.C. from Europe

Vaccine against deadly rabbit virus arrives in B.C. from Europe

File photo.

File photo.

A vaccine to protect pet rabbits from a deadly virus has arrived in B.C. and is being distributed to 50 veterinary clinics that ordered the drug.

The first batch of the vaccines to protect rabbits from the haemorrhagic disease has arrived from Europe and because of high demand, a second batch is expected in early May.

The first B.C. diagnosis of the disease was found in tests of dead rabbits found in Nanaimo in March, and spread to Comox, Courtenay and Parksville, along with the lower mainland.

The agriculture ministry ordered the vaccine from France in March following the first diagnosis and is imported through a specialized provincial emergency-use federal-permitting process.

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease is extremely infectious and lethal and causes internal bleeding and organ damage in rabbits.

The province says affected rabbits can show signs of listlessness, a lack of coordination, behaviour changes or trouble breathing and pet owners should monitor their rabbits daily for any signs of the disease.

The first batch of vaccines includes 1,090 individual doses and 42 multi-dose vials, passed out to vet clinics that ordered it after the virus was discovered in their area.

The virus does not pose a health risk to humans or other domestic animals.

Andy NealAndy Neal

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