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New Strain of Rabbit Calicivirus Hits Tasmania

20 May 2016

AUSTRALIA - The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is warning of a new strain of rabbit calicivirus, RHDV2, which could have a devastating effect on Tasmanian pet rabbits and rabbit farms.

AVA Tasmanian President, Dr Sally-Anne Ritcher, said the new virus strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease virus (RHDV) is different from RHDV1, which was released in Australia in 1996 for the control of wild rabbits.

“The new strain was first reported in France in 2010 and has been found in several other European countries. We don’t how it reached Australia, after it was first discovered in Canberra in May 2015 and has since been confirmed in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.

“While the current vaccine for rabbit calcivirus is not fully protective against RHDV2, owners are reminded to continue to vaccinate their rabbits against rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), to provide the maximum possible protection against this new strain.

“While an updated vaccine is being developed, a revised vaccination protocol for young rabbits may help, using the vaccine currently available in Australia. Rabbit owners should speak to their vet about maximising their pet’s protection against RHDV2.

“Unfortuantely we’re already seeing deaths in domestic rabbits in Tasmania as a result of this new strain, but there are precautions that owners can take.

“The virus is highly contagious. Rabbits can become infected through contact with objects contaminated with the virus, such as clothing, shoes and truck tires. Flies and fleas, birds and animals such as rodents are also known to spread the virus.

“We suggest housing your rabbits indoors or in enclosed environments, if possible and remove faeces and urine from rabbit enclosures daily to make the area less attractive to flies.

“Place netting around your rabbit’s hutch even if indoors. If your rabbits are allowed to exercise outside, avoid letting them out in the early morning or late afternoon when insects are more numerous.

“Wash your hands thoroughly before handling your rabbits, particularly when you come home from places where other rabbits may have been, or where people have been in contact with rabbits.

Quarantine any new rabbit for five days before introducing them to your other rabbits.

“You should also speak to your vet about flea prevention products suitable for use in rabbits,” she said.

ThePetSite News Desk



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