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Rabbit Owners Advised to be on Lookout for New Disease Strain

04 February 2016

AUSTRALIA - Domestic rabbit owners and breeders are being advised to be on the lookout for a new strain of rabbit calicivirus - RHDV2 - following the confirmation of recent cases in South Australia.

RHDV does not pose a risk to human health and is not a notifiable livestock disease.

The impact of RHDV on pet rabbits and rabbit farms is high and can cause death in young kittens (3-4 weeks) and a proportion of vaccinated adults.

This new virus is distinct from RHDV1 which was released in Australia in 1996 for the control of wild rabbits.

RHDV2 was first reported in France in 2010 and has been found in several other European countries. It is not known how it reached Australian shores after it was first discovered in Canberra in May 2015, with recent cases now confirmed in South Australia in the Murraylands and Mount Lofty Ranges regions.

Biosecurity SA advises that while the current vaccine for rabbit calicivirus is not fully protective against RHDV2, keeping domestic or pet rabbits’ vaccinations up to date is recommended in order to provide the maximum possible protection against this new strain.

As flies are one of the main vectors of both RHDV1 and RHDV2 and mosquitoes are also a vector for myxomatosis, Biosecurity SA also recommends that pet and farmed rabbits be kept in insect proof enclosures as much as possible to provide further protection against disease.

For further information and advice on vaccinating your rabbits contact your local veterinary clinic or surgeon.

ThePetSite News Desk

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