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Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) fall update

October 11, 2018

The last suspected cases of RHD in BC were reported in mid-July. As it has been three months since these cases, the BC SPCA has resumed rabbit intake at most Island and Lower Mainland branches with the exception of Nanaimo, Parksville, Comox, and Richmond. All incoming rabbits to Island, Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley, and eastern Interior branches will be vaccinated at intake and quarantined for 14 days.

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 has lifted all visitor restrictions for adoptable, post-quarantine rabbits in all branches. We have many wonderful rabbits ready for adoption who can be viewed online.

Cute small rabbit half out of a tunnel

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease outbreak

Original story: Apr. 17, 2018

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) has now been confirmed in Nanaimo, Comox, Courtenay, Parksville, Richmond, and on Annacis Island. The BC SPCA has temporarily suspended intake of rabbits into all Island and Lower Mainland shelters and placed visitor restrictions on these branches. We are currently in the process of vaccinating all shelter and foster rabbits in these regions. At this time, none of our facilities are offering vaccines to the public. We recommend that concerned rabbit guardians contact their veterinarian to inquire about the vaccine.

A rabbit who died in the care of our BC SPCA Education & Adoption Centre in Richmond on April 16th has tested negative for RHD (but was found to have colon cancer). The Centre was closed for cleaning and disinfection but will reopen on Friday, April 20.

Additional control measures are also in place restricting some animal transfers, implementing a rabbit quarantine period prior to adoption for Island, Lower Mainland, and Interior shelters, and asking visitors to all BC SPCA shelters provincially who have been in affected areas to change clothing/ disinfect shoes and hands prior to entering the facility.


April 16, 2018  News Release from the Ministry of Agriculture


BC SPCA RHD Information Sheet for Rabbit Guardians (PDF)

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

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease published by Iowa State University (PDF)


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.