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No new cases of rabbit haemorrhagic disease, says province

VICTORIA, B.C- Cases of a deadly disease for rabbits are believed to be declining in British Columbia.

After the first appearance of rabbit haemorrhagic disease on Vancouver Island in spring, vaccines were ordered by the province from a French manufacturer. The disease had appeared first in Nanaimo, and was known to cause internal bleeding and organ damage in rabbits.

Most affected rabbits died suddenly, and symptoms included a lack of coordination, changes in behaviour, and trouble breathing. It was compared to a rabbit version of ebola.

Rabbits had tested positive for the disease in spring from Comox, Courtenay, Delta, Nanaimo, Parksville and Richmond.

However, since early May, it appears that the virus has been on the downswing.

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According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the last positive case was detected in early May.

Since that time, the ministry’s Animal Health Centre has tested 23 rabbits and all have been negative for the disease. No vaccinated animals have contracted the disease, and ministry staff have been hearing that healthy feral European Rabbits have been returning to affected areas.

“It is unknown whether this marks the end of the outbreak or if it will recur in the weeks, months or years to come,” read the ministry’s statement.

“The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to monitor the situation.”

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