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New Strain of Rabbit Virus Spreading Across South Australia

23 June 2016

AUSTRALIA - Biosecurity South Australia has confirmed a new strain of calcivirus is sweeping through rabbit colonies in parts of regional South Australia.

The haemorrhagic virus strain known as RHDV2 was first detected in Murray Bridge earlier this year and is now established in Adelaide, the South East and Koolunga in the Mid North.

Biosecurity SA researchers are monitoring the impact and spread of the virus with help from landowners reporting sightings of dead rabbits and collecting them for testing.

Biosecurity SA welcomes further rabbit samples from across South Australia to track the spread of RHDV2. If you find a rabbit in the field that has recently died please contact Biosecurity SA for further advice on (08) 8303 9505.

Map of confirmed and suspected cases of RHDV2 in SA as of 9 May 2016 (PDF 381.9 KB).

"In many parts of South Australia the first calcivirus released in the mid-90s reduced rabbit numbers by about 90 percent. The early signs are the RHDV2 outbreak may also cause major reductions in the population," said Dr David Peacock, Research Officer, Biosecurity SA.

"Landowners are urged to keep using traditional techniques such as poisoning and warren destruction to slow the recovery of rabbit populations affected by the RHDV2 virus.

"European rabbits have been a widespread and devastating pest in Australia for more than 150 years with a cost to our agricultural industries estimated to be over $200 million annually."

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