Dr. Dilbag Rana injects a rabbit while Dan Watson holds the animal Tuesday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Dr. Dilbag Rana injects a rabbit while Dan Watson holds the animal Tuesday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

300 rabbits vaccinated in South Surrey

Volunteers, vets try to stop spread of lethal virus

Described as the “Ebola for bunnies,” a team of volunteers worked together in South Surrey Tuesday afternoon to get ahead of the lethal – and spreading – rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

Four veterinarians and a group of volunteers set up an assembly line of rapid fire vaccinations at Urban Safari Rescue Society on 176 Street, catching, passing and vaccinating approximately 300 football-sized rabbits within a couple of hours.

Majority of the rabbits vaccinated Tuesday were Rabbitats Canada rabbits, however, active volunteers were allowed to bring their rabbits.

Rabbitats Canada founder Sorelle Saidman said the number of feral rabbit deaths is likely in the thousands, and that complete colonies have been wiped out since the disease was confirmed on Vancouver Island in February.

Vancouver Island University, known for its abundance of feral rabbits hoping about on its Nanaimo campus, has had its colony wiped out.

“I think there’s one bunny left alive, left out of hundreds,” Saidman told Peace Arch News.

Earlier this month, the Richmond Animal Shelter euthanized all 66 of its rabbits in care after several of its animals tested positive for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

The outbreak marks the first time the virus has been found in B.C. Saidman said the virus found locally is the same as one found in Spain, however, the virus in Spain had a 30- to 70- per cent mortality rate.

“The virus we are blessed with is killing 95 to 100 per cent of the rabbits it infects,” she said.

In order to prepare for the vaccination clinic, volunteers set up a quarantine zone and everyone entering was required to wear a full medical gown, protective boot covers and a hairnet.

The room where the volunteers administered the vaccinations was wrapped with plastic wrap. Saidman said even flies and mosquitoes can transfer the disease.

The disease is only known to affect rabbits. Other mammals, including humans, are considered safe.

The vaccine has been imported to B.C. from France by the provincial government. Saidman said it was a “colossal effort” to get the drug, as it is an emergency drug import.

“The amount of paperwork, the amount of red tape and the amount of cost has been incredible, but the provincial government stepped in and they have taken the part of the distributor,” she said.

The vaccine has been distributed to 52 vets in the province.

“Now, what will happen, is there will be for sure one more order put in. Basically, British Columbia took every last drop of the vaccine that the company in France had. They’re busy manufacturing more.”

Dr. Veronica Gventsadze, who spoke to PAN Tuesday while she was continuously refilling syringes with the vaccine, said she has never seen anything like this before in her 10 years as a veterinarian.

“Not really no, because the virus is brand new to British Columbia and so is the vaccination of rabbits, which has never been done before.”

She said rabbit owners should “absolutely” get their pet vaccinated.

“But once you do, do not relax your bio-security vigilance,” Gventsadze said.

Rabbit owners can contact their veterinarians to learn how to receive the vaccination.

Other veterinarians that participated in Tuesday’s vaccination exercise include Drs. Dilbag Rana, Joseph Martinez and Adam Avitan.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Rabbits waiting to be vaccinated at Urban Safari Rescue Society in South Surrey on Tuesday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Rabbits waiting to be vaccinated at Urban Safari Rescue Society in South Surrey on Tuesday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Just Posted

Guns and other items seized by Surrey Gang Enforcement Team (SGET) during a vehicle stop in Newton on Saturday, April 17. (submitted photo: Surrey RCMP)
Drugs, guns seized during vehicle stop in Surrey

Police say officers found ‘multiple baggies’ of suspected fentanyl, meth

The Surrey Board of Trade has launched a new ‘Say Yes to the Vaccine’ campaign. (File photo)
Surrey Board of Trade launches campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccination

Vaccinations are the only solution to re-opening the econony, says board

The volume of visitors to White Rock’s Marine Drive over the weekend has led council to consider special measures this week. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock council rejects resident-only parking for waterfront

Other health and safety measures to be considered in a special meeting Wednesday

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Vehicles line up for the Greater Vancouver Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival at the Chilliwack Coliseum parking lot on March 27. The touring event comes to Cloverdale this weekend, April 24-25 (Photo: Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress)
Here are the food trucks coming to Cloverdale for a drive-thru festival this weekend

Nine trucks will be parked Saturday, nine Sunday during event at fairgrounds

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Westbound Highway 1 traffic near Herrling Island is backed up a long way following a vehicle incident. (Photo/Trish Dunbar)
Pedestrian killed in crash near Agassiz

Woman in her 50s struck by moving van

FILE – Health-care workers wave to people clapping and yelling thank you to the frontline workers during the 7 p.m.-tribute outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. nurses issue plea for all to follow health orders as hospitalizations spike

Nurses worried about strain COVID-19 is having on hospital capacity, care

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Lawsuit filed last summer accused Barney Williams of verbal abuse

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark. (Black Press Media files)
Former B.C. premier to testify at money laundering hearing today

Attorney General David Eby has been added to the witness list as well

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to table budget that’s expected to deal with COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Robinson released a fiscal update last December that said the impact of the pandemic on B.C.’s economy was uncertain

A man has died after being shot at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park the evening of Monday, April 19. (Twitter/IHIT)
1 man dead after shooting at Coquitlam park: IHIT

The gunman is still at large, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

Most Read