Lethal rabbit illness present in Ontario for the first time


Two pet rabbits contaminated with a extremely contagious virus that is newly detected in Ontario have died, inflicting concern amongst veterinarians and pet house owners.

The Canadian Meals Inspection Company (CFIA) mentioned it is the primary time rabbit hemorrhagic illness (RHDV-2) has been detected in Ontario. It beforehand was present in B.C. and Alberta. 

The virus is just not identified to trigger illness in people, based on each the United States Division of Agriculture and the CFIA.

The rabbits within the Ontario case had been from the identical family and beforehand wholesome, based on Dr. Jamie McGill Worsley, a veterinarian in Forest in Lambton County. 

The rabbits shortly died. 

“This was devastating for a pet proprietor with no warning and initially no understanding,” she mentioned, “As we did testing, we began to turn out to be extra suspicious that perhaps this [virus] was the case.”

Samples had been despatched to a lab. Earlier this month, the CFIA confirmed it was RHDV-2.

The supply of the an infection is not identified, the company mentioned.

“Instantly following this, the CFIA positioned a quarantine on the positioning,” the company mentioned in a press release. “An investigation has been accomplished and no high-risk contacts have been recognized that might end in unfold of the illness from this premise. The CFIA is collaborating with the province and continues to watch the state of affairs.”

The CFIA’s web site says the virus is present in most European international locations, Australia, New Zealand, Cuba and a few elements of Asia and Africa, and there have been occasional outbreaks within the U.S. and Canada, in 2011, 2016 and 2018.

What’s RHDV-2

In accordance with the CFIA, the illness is very contagious in wild and home rabbits. The virus does not have an effect on different species.

Folks can choose up the virus on their footwear — and even on their car’s tires — by way of the feces of an contaminated rabbit, mentioned McGill Worsley.

That is one of many causes there’s such concern, she mentioned.

“It is extremely resilient within the surroundings. It is very straightforward to unfold round with microscopic quantities. After which, after all, the potential consequence of this virus, its influence on the rabbits, whether or not they’re wild or pet rabbits, is kind of devastating,” mentioned McGill Worsley, who has strengthened disinfection protocols at her clinic due to RHDV-2.

Dr. Jamie McGill Worsley of Forest Veterinary Clinic in Forest, Ont., proven with a pet rabbit at her clinic. McGill Worsley has strengthened disinfection protocols at her clinic due to RHDV-2. (Submitted by Jamie McGill Worsley )

The CFIA mentioned contaminated rabbits normally present signs inside one to 5 days. Signs embrace fever, lack of urge for food and neurological signs reminiscent of issue strolling.

“Loss of life is frequent after a brief interval of sickness. Loss of life can also happen immediately with out indicators,” the CFIA says in a truth sheet on its web site.

Hazel Gabe of Ottawa is a part of a Fb group for rabbit house owners the place information of the virus has generated concern.

“Persons are actually scared. Persons are very scared and nervous,” she mentioned.

However for some, there is a little bit of reduction, she mentioned.

“Now that there is been some instances in Ontario, although we hate that some rabbits died and any person most likely misplaced their pet, however because of this perhaps we’ll lastly have entry to the vaccine, as a result of we have been asking for this for some time.”

 Whereas different international locations have vaccines that shield rabbits towards the virus, they are not available in Canada.

Hazel Gabe, proven along with her pet rabbit, desires to see a vaccine towards rabbit hemorrhagic illness virus turn out to be extra broadly out there. (Sonya Varma/CBC)

In B.C., the place there have been outbreaks, the federal government waited till there have been a sure variety of instances earlier than providing an organized vaccine program.

McGill Worsley suspects will probably be the identical case in Ontario. However at this level, clinics have to request a particular allow to import the vaccine from Spain or France, she mentioned.

“It is a bit of a course of. I’ve labored half manner by way of it myself … that manner we are able to begin to have the ability to shield rabbits as soon as we have now permission from the Canadian Meals Inspection Company to deliver these vaccines right here.”


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