Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease
On March 2, 2018, it was initially reported that Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) had been identified in the feral rabbit population in the Nanaimo area. To date, all cases have been in feral European rabbits; no cases have been identified in domestic or native rabbits.
RHD is highly contagious and spreads easily via various contaminated substances and surfaces (clothing, shoes, etc.). It is also very resistant in the environment and within the carcasses of dead rabbits. Strict biosecurity is key for the prevention of spread to other rabbits. We encourage you to follow these links to a very thorough Fact Sheet on RHD and a document on Rabbit Biosecurity Protocols.
RHD is an "immediately notifiable disease", defined by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as "exotic to Canada for which there are no control or eradication programs." Please familiarize yourself with the full explanation on their website.
For further information on how the investigation is proceeding, inquiries on sample submissions or to be put in touch with other veterinarians who are trying to coordinate a group vaccine order, please contact the Wildlife Veterinarian with the FLNRO, Dr. Helen Schwantje at firstname.lastname@example.org.
***MARCH 27, 2018 UPDATE***
The College has received notice from the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of BC (Dr. Jane Pritchard) that the Canadian Centre of Veterinary Biologics (CCVB) has agreed to allow importation of an unlicensed vaccine to BC, but that it must be organized through a single importer for further distribution to Canadian veterinarians. The CCVB is making an exception and allowing the CVO to take the lead role in importing the vaccine for distribution to individual veterinarians. The order will be received and distributed by the Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford, BC.
Any veterinarians wanting to order vaccine doses must submit a request to the CVO indicating the names and addresses of each veterinarian (and practice) placing an order, as well as the number of vials being ordered via e-mail to email@example.com.
Costs of Vaccines (does not include shipping and packaging):
1. Blister pack of 10 individual dose vials = 120 Euros = $191.59 or $20/dose. The single dose vaccine batch will have an expiry date of April 8, 2019.
2. Cardbox of one 50-dose multi-dose vial = 65 Euros = $103.78 or $2.10/dose. The 50-dose vial will expire September 28, 2018 or 2 hours after reconstitution.
For every dose administered by the veterinarian, the CVO will require a signed vaccination certificate (a template for the certificate will be provided by the CVO) that is signed by both the veterinarian administering the vaccine and the client (acknowledging that this is an unlicensed product); the signed certificate will need to be scanned/emailed or faxed back to the CVO.
***APRIL 11, 2018 UPDATE***
RHD has been confirmed in feral rabbits in Delta, Comox and Richmond. The Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford has had 23 submissions related to this disease outbreak to date with 11 positive (all from feral rabbit communities) and 6 negative. Some submissions consisted of more than one rabbit. Results are pending on 6 cases at this time, some of which are pet and commercial rabbits. This disease does not affect humans and only affects rabbits, no other animals. The strain in BC appears to be highly virulent and easily spread with a short incubation period. It also may infect rabbits less than 30 days of age unlike most other strains.
The test for confirming RHD is available at the provincial veterinary diagnostic lab in Abbotsford (Animal Health Centre). Submission forms are available on the website. Testing for just RHD is being carried out without charge. If further testing or a complete necropsy was needed fees, as explained on the website, will apply.
***APRIL 17, 2018 UPDATE***
RHD has been confirmed in feral rabbits in the Parksville area.
RHD Statement (April 16, 2018)