Gunnedah veterinarian Ann Luke is encouraging local rabbit owners to book a vaccination as soon as possible to protect them against a rabbit virus being released this week.
Landholders, working with the Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services, plan to release the rabbit virus, RHDV1 K5, in more than 200 community-led sites in NSW as part of the national release.
“This virus is being released as a biocontrol measure to manage wild European rabbits,” Ms Luke said.
“RHDV1 K5 is not a new virus; it is a Korean variant of the exiting virus already widespread in Australia that was released in 1996. RHDV1s, including RHDV1 K5 are strongly species specific viruses, affecting only lagomorphs, and in particular the European rabbit. They are not known to cause disease in any other Australian animal species.”
“Due to the high mortality rate (70-90 per cent) with the RH virus, it is advised to prevent with vaccination, along with other preventive measures such as insect proofing of cages, washing hands prior to and after handling of rabbits, and avoiding contact between domestic and wild rabbits.”
Ms Luke said RHVD1 has an incubation period of 1-3 days and then rapidly progresses throughout the rabbits system causing fever, lethargy and sudden death as early as 48 hours from first signs of infection.
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
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