Small Farms

New strain of calicivirus confirmed in pest rabbit

Calicivirus confirmed in pest rabbit
Pest rabbit taking a virus-laced carrot bait - image taken by remote camera trap and supplied by Heather Barnes, Department of Parks and Wildlife

CSIRO have scientifically confirmed the first pest rabbit that has succumbed to the newly released Korean strain of calicivirus, known as RHDV1 K5.

The dead rabbit was found near one of the national release sites, on the outskirts of Canberra.

This result comes after the national release of RHDV1 K5, which was released at more than 600 sites across Australia.

Andreas Glanznig, Invasive Animals CRC CEO said that this result confirms that RHDV1 K5 is starting to work within the landscape and boosting our rabbit control efforts within Australia.

“While this is the first confirmed case of RHDV1 K5, we have had other reports of dead rabbits from around Australia logged in to our RabbitScan Portal,” Mr Glanznig said.

All release sites received tissue sample kits as part of their mailed-out information packs sent in early February 2017 and tissue samples are now starting to be mailed back to laboratory testing facilities for analysis.

The samples are being analysed at three facilities based in the ACT (CSIRO), NSW (EMAI, NSW DPI) and SA (PIRSA) as part of the Invasive Animals CRC National RHDV Monitoring Program.

Samples take approximately 1-2 days to be analysed by the research teams and then the confirmed result is logged onto RabbitScan and an email notification is sent back to the recipient.

“We are still actively encouraging and reminding those involved in the release and members of the public who come across a dead rabbit to report it into RabbitScan.

“These reports are vital to our understanding of the movement of the disease around the country and will assist landholders in making future decisions about rabbit management,” Mr Glanznig said.

Members of the public can view live updates of the rabbit disease through the Rabbit Biocontrol Tracker which can be found via the ‘Report Disease’ function of RabbitScan.

A vaccine (Cylap) is available to protect domestic rabbits against RHDV1 K5 and has a proven 20 year track record in Australia and 30 years in Europe protecting rabbits from all RHDV1 strains. Zoetis, the manufacture of the vaccine, has confirmed that a new shipment of vaccine has arrived in Australia and orders are being filled through the various vaccine wholesalers.

The national release of RHDV1 K5 has been delivered through the Invasive Animals CRC, with major financial and in kind resources provided by the Australian and NSW governments, CSIRO, Meat & Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation and Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia

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