South Australian pet rabbit owners and commercial rabbit farmers are reminded to make sure vaccinations are up to date ahead of the national release of the new strain of calicivirus RHDV1 K5 next month to manage the growing feral rabbit population.
The calicivirus vaccine, administered by vets, is effective against the RHDV1 K5 strain and will help protect pet rabbits.
The Korean strain of RHDV1 will only infect European rabbits and is not detrimental to humans, other domestic pets or native wildlife. Pet rabbits should be kept enclosed and safely away from wild rabbits.
Wild rabbits are regarded as agriculture’s most costly pest, estimated to impact on agricultural production by $200 million a year. They are also a significant threat to biodiversity affecting 304 nationally threatened plant and animal species.
RHDV1 K5 is a Korean variant of the existing virus which is already widespread in Australia. K5 has been selected as a new strain for release as it is expected to be more effective in the cool-wet regions of Australia than the original strain released in 1996.
Pet rabbit owners and commercial rabbit farmers should vaccinate their animals to protect them ahead of the trial release of the virus across South Australia next month.
Additional protection against calicivirus, and also myxomatosis, can be achieved by keeping rabbits in insect-proof enclosures or inside homes.
For more information visit www.pestsmart.org.au/rhdv-k5-what-about-my-pet-rabbit/ or www.ava.com.au/public
Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Leon Bignell
It’s critical for us to control pest rabbits – Australia’s most widespread and destructive environmental and agricultural vertebrate pest – but at the same time we want to point out the risks to pet rabbits if they aren’t vaccinated.
If you haven’t already vaccinated your rabbit, visit your local vet soon.
Vets have advised me the vaccine is effective against the K5 strain so domestic rabbit owners should vaccinate their rabbits before the release of this strain or ensure their animals’ vaccinations are up-to-date.