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Majjistral Park Investigating Cases Of Dead Wild Rabbits With Links To Potential Virus

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A joint investigation has been launched into the death of several wild rabbits at Majjistral Park after local farmers complained that someone had deliberately spread an infectious disease.

“So far we have managed to find one rabbit that could be tested for the virus,” Park Manager Darren Saliba told Lovin Malta. “The specimen was sent to the veterinary services lab and a sample has been sent abroad for testing,” he said.

Last week, several farmers appeared on TVM expressing concern that someone was spreading a virus throughout the park with the intent to kill wild rabbits.

However, there is no clear indication as to whether this was the case, with authorities confirming that an investigation is ongoing.

“We believe that the problem is mainly related to Viral Haemorrhagic Disease, a type of virus that affects wild and domestic rabbits,” Saliba continued.

“The virus was brought to the Maltese shores around 30 years ago. In fact, it is a common practice within the rabbit farming community to vaccinate their stock twice a year to counter this disease,” he continued.

According to Mario Spiteri, Director-General at the Agriculture Ministry, the virus causes the rabbits to suffer excessively before they die, but noted that it is not transmissible to humans.

In the meantime, the park issued a statement urging visitors to keep an eye out for dead rabbits and to contact authorities so that they may be collected for investigation.

🐇 In the aftermath of the article published by TVM on 7th April were claims of sick wild rabbits were brought to our…

Posted by Il-Majjistral Nature and History Park on Thursday, April 8, 2021

“Another important point is that this disease can be transmitted through the release of infected rabbits in the wild, among other things,” Saliba ended.

Cover Photo Insert: TVM

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