Rabbit owners are being urged to consult their vet about protection before the rabbit biocontrol, RHDV1 K5 is released at the end of February.
The new biosecurity bulletin has been issued by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
DPI invasive species manager, Quentin Hart, said RHDV1 K5 is the Korean strain of a naturally-occurring rabbit virus first released in Australia in 1996 to manage the impact of pest rabbits on the environment and agriculture.
“We are targeting wild rabbits which cost more than $200 million in lost agricultural production annually and wreak havoc on the environment, with a direct impact on 304 threatened native plant and animal species,” Mr Hart said.
“To help prevent domestic rabbits from becoming infected with RHDV1 K5 pet owners should consult their veterinarian and follow vaccination recommendations.”
In addition to vaccination, DPI advises rabbit owners to prevent direct and indirect contact between domestic and wild rabbits, protect rabbits from insects to reduce risks of RHDV and myxomatosis, which includes insect-proof hutches and keeping rabbits indoors, and wash their hands with warm soapy water between handling rabbits.
The recommendations on the DPI website are in accordance with advice from the Australian Veterinary Association (www.ava.com.au/rabbit-calicivirus).
Landholders, working with DPI and Local Land Services, plan to release RHDV1 K5 in more than 200 community-led sites in NSW, from late February until early March, as part of the national release.
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.
For more information, visit www.healthierlandscapes.org.au