We remain open to provide care for your pets. We are following the direction of government and regulatory authorities and have implemented hospital and visit protocols to keep both you and our team safe. For regular updates on our hours and visit protocols, please follow our social media platforms.

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Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease

With the recent stories in the news about the RHD outbreak on Vancouver Island and the suspected cases in the Comox Valley; here at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital, we’ve been receiving a lot of calls from concerned pet owners looking for information. The following information was sourced from the BCSPCA website which includes a great handout for rabbit owners. For more information on RHD please refer to www.spca.bc.ca/rhd

What is Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease?

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is caused by a virus in the calicivirus family. There are a number of related viruses, some which do not cause disease. RHD was first reported in B.C. in February 2018 in the Nanaimo area of Vancouver Island. Follow-up laboratory work identified an RHD virus. Since then, the disease is suspected to have killed rabbits in at least one other community on Vancouver Island and is confirmed in one location on the Lower Mainland (Annacis Island). This disease only affects domestic rabbits and is currently decimating local colonies of abandoned pet bunnies released into the wild and their feral offspring.

All domestic rabbits are susceptible, so pet rabbits are at risk. RHD is a serious and extremely contagious disease with high mortality rates. Most infected rabbits will die but some have survived. The disease does not affect humans or other species including dogs and cats. The virus can persist in the environment for several weeks and may survive both heat and freezing. A vaccine is not available in Canada but a process is underway and a vaccine may be available later this year.

How does RHD virus spread?

RHD virus spreads easily between rabbits through direct contact with bedding, feed and water as well as feces and body fluids. It can also be carried by insects or birds that may have had direct contact with an infected specimen, from the feces of other wildlife after feeding on rabbit carcasses as well as by our clothing, footwear and it can even stick to our tires.

What are the Symptoms?

Most affected rabbits die suddenly but can show signs of listlessness, lack of coordination, behavioural changes, or trouble breathing before death. Once infected, signs of illness usually occur within 1-9 days.

How can I protect my pet rabbit?

• Minimize exposure to the virus
• Limit human visitors who have been in areas where the disease was reported and avoid your travel to these areas.
• Avoid taking your rabbit to shows/fairs or introducing any new rabbits into your home.
• Ask visitors to remove footwear before entering your home and wash their hands before handling your rabbit.
• Use designated clean clothing that has not been outside when caring for your rabbit.
• Clean and disinfect any rabbit supplies entering your home.
• Use only high-quality commercial feed from manufacturers with good quality control.
• Use municipal water only, shallow well water is not recommended.
• Don’t use wild plants or vegetables or grass grown in areas accessed by feral rabbits or other wildlife, as food.
• Remove or tightly secure anything outside (feed, garbage) that could attract feral rabbits, wildlife, or flies.
• Exercise rabbits outdoors only in secured areas with no possibility of contamination. Do not allow cats or dogs who go outside to potentially contaminated areas to access your rabbit’s housing area.

How do I clean and disinfect rabbit supplies?

Feeding and housing should be cleaned with soap and water, and then disinfected with a disinfectant that is effective against caliciviruses following manufacturer instructions. Most household cleaners are not effective against this type of virus. Advised to be effective: bleach (1:10 dilution), potassium peroxymonosulfate (Virkon), accelerated hydrogen peroxide (Prevail, Accel, and Peroxigard). The latter disinfectants are more user-friendly than bleach and may be obtained from your veterinarian.

If you find a dead or sickly rabbit or rabbits outside, do not pick up or handle the rabbit(s). Please do not bring any sickly or deceased rabbits into your veterinary hospital or to the shelter as this is a highly contagious disease. Contact your local animal control at (250)-339-2202, or CVRD (250)-334-6000 for assistance.

Written by Van Isle Veterinary Hospital

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Get a Cupcake and Support BC Animals in Need During Treat Week (Feb 24 - Mar 1, 2020)

Van Isle Veterinary Hospital is super excited to be hosting our 4th annual cupcake day fundraiser! BCSPCA celebrates “Treat Week” across the Province from Feb 24th – March 1st 2020 where business, pet owners and animal lovers can bake up a storm and sell treats with the proceeds going to BC animals in need.

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COVID-19: Additional measures we are taking

Dear Clients,

Due to the close contact that our work requires, we have taken additional measures to protect you and our team while providing care for your furry family members.

The following changes are effective as of Friday, March 19, 2020:

1. We are currently operating a “closed waiting room” policy to protect our clients and staff. When you arrive, please remain in your vehicle and use your cell phone to call us at 250.334.8400. We will take a history of your pet from outside your car, and bring your pet into the clinic for an examination with the veterinarian. Once the examination is finished, the Doctor will either call you or come out to talk to you to discuss the treatment etc for your pet. For those who do not have a mobile phone, an easy knock at the door will work the same way!

2. We are continuing to accept appointments for urgent or sick pets, as well as time-sensitive puppy/kitten vaccinations. All other services will be scheduled for a later time.

3. We are OPEN and temporarily operating as a 24-hour hospital.

4. If you are ordering food or medications, please allow 2-4 business days as our suppliers are dealing with increased demand and are trying to fill orders as quickly as possible. We will advise you as soon as your order arrives. Please call us when you arrive to pick up your order, but do not enter the hospital. Our staff will bring your order to your car and take payment over the phone. You can also use our online store and have your food delivered directly to your home. To sign up for the Online Store, visit our website.

5. For the time being, we are not accepting cash as payment. Credit cards and debit card payments are still available.

6. Online consultations are now available! If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.

Following the recommendations of our government and medical experts, we are doing our best to practice social distancing within the constraints of our roles. As such, we have taken measures to avoid both contracting and facilitating the spread of this virus.

Thank you for helping us be diligent for everyone's safety. As we have heard from all levels of government, the situation is fluid and any updates will be provided as changes occur.

- Your dedicated team at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital