Update: Rabbit hemorrhagic disease outbreak
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Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) found on Vancouver Island for second year

September 23, 2019

RHD has again been found on the island and lower mainland this year. Several cases have just been confirmed in Saanich, as well as cases in Parksville, Qualicum, and north of Nanaimo this spring and in Vancouver this summer. RHD is a highly contagious, lethal virus that is specific to rabbits. Prior to this March, the last suspected cases of RHD in BC were reported in mid-July 2018.

Due to increased risk, the BC SPCA has not accepted rabbits into the Parksville, Nanaimo, Comox, and Richmond branches since March 2018. For other Island, Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley, and eastern Interior locations incoming rabbits are vaccinated and quarantined upon intake. Additional control measures are also in place restricting some animal transfers and asking visitors to all BC SPCA shelters provincially who have been on Vancouver Island or in Vancouver to change clothing/ disinfect shoes and hands prior to entering the facility.

We encourage rabbit guardians to have their rabbits vaccinated. Guardians should contact their veterinarian with questions about the vaccine. For more information about how to protect pet rabbits, consult our information sheet (PDF).

Due to ongoing quarantine requirements and because rabbits tend to stay in care for a long time awaiting adoption, space for incoming rabbits will continue to be limited. Please contact your local branch before you go if you are looking to bring a rabbit into a BC SPCA shelter.

The BC SPCA continues to adopt out vaccinated rabbits who have completed their quarantine. We have many wonderful rabbits ready for adoption who can be viewed online.


BC SPCA RHD Information Sheet for Rabbit Guardians (PDF)

BC SPCA RHD Information Sheet for Shelters, Rescues and Sanctuaries (PDF)

April 10, 2019 News Release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and Ministry of Agriculture (PDF)

September 23, 2019 News Release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Cute small rabbit half out of a tunnel

BC SPCA suspends intake of rabbits due to disease

Original story: March 2, 2018

The BC SPCA has temporarily suspended intake of rabbits into its Nanaimo shelter after tests conducted by the provincial government on deceased feral rabbits found on the campus of Vancouver Island University and in the Rotary Bowl in Nanaimo determined the rabbits died from haemorrhagic disease, caused by a calicivirus.

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease is an extremely infectious and lethal disease of rabbits. It is the third confirmed diagnosis of this virus in Canada, and the first in British Columbia.

The disease is exclusive to rabbits – other animals, including dogs and cats, cannot be infected.

Please see the news release (PDF) from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development for further details.

The media contact listed with the release is: 250 356-7506.