New rab­bit virus strikes at Kaniva

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Kaniva is one of two sites where CSIRO sci­en­tists have con­firmed the first deaths of pest rab­bits in­fected with a newly re­leased Korean strain of cali­civirus, also known as RHDV1 K5.

Re­searchers noted one dead rab­bit from a re­lease site near the west Wim­mera cen­tre and two dead rab­bits near an­other re­lease site at Tany­bryn, north of Apollo Bay.

This re­sult comes two weeks af­ter a na­tional re­lease of RHDV1 K5 by com­mu­nity groups and land man­agers at 150 sites across Vic­to­ria.

Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria rab­bit biose­cu­rity man­ager John Matthews said the early re­sult con­firmed RHDV1 K5 was start­ing to work in Vic­to­ria.

Mr Matthews said while the re­lease of RHDV1 K5 would boost rab­bit con­trol ef­forts in Aus­tralia, it was im­por­tant to con­tinue other rab­bit man­age­ment tech­niques to take full ad­van­tage of pop­u­la­tion re­duc­tions.

All of the Vic­to­rian re­lease sites re­ceived tis­sue sam­ple kits as part of mailed-out in­for­ma­tion packs in early Fe­bru­ary.

Sci­en­tists are now tak­ing tis­sue sam­ples from dead rab­bits at lab­o­ra­tory test­ing fa­cil­i­ties for anal­y­sis.

Mr Matthews said re­search teams took about one to two days to an­a­lyse sam­ples as part of the In­va­sive An­i­mals CRC Na­tional RHDV Mon­i­tor­ing Pro­gram.

He said re­sults were logged into Rab­bitscan data and an email no­ti­fi­ca­tion sent back to peo­ple who sub­mit­ted the sam­ples.

“We urge those in­volved to con­tinue to send tis­sue sam­ples to the lab­o­ra­tory for test­ing,” Mr Matthews said.

“These re­ports are vi­tal to our un­der­stand­ing of the move­ment of the dis­ease around the coun­try and will as­sist land­hold­ers in mak­ing fu­ture de­ci­sions about rab­bit man­age­ment.”

Mr Matthews en­cour­aged peo­ple to help track the spread of the virus by down­load­ing a Rab­bitscan smart­phone app.

The app al­lows users to re­port ev­i­dence of dis­ease to help land man­agers across Aus­tralia un­der­stand the move­ment of the virus.

Pest rab­bits are Aus­tralia’s most de­struc­tive agri­cul­tural pest an­i­mal, cost­ing $200-mil­lion in lost agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion ev­ery year, with a fur­ther $6-mil­lion spent ex­pended on rab­bit con­trol mea­sures.

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