OWNERS of pet rabbits as well as breeders are being urged to vaccinate their animals as soon as possible, following the release this week of a virus into Australia’s wild rabbit population.
It will be the first time in more than 20 years that a new rabbit biocontrol agent has been launched in every State and Territory.
Farmers and environmental groups in more than 600 sites have been issued with the necessary kits to rollout the RHDV-K5 Korean strain of the Calicivirus.
Veterinary Locum George Dellar has been in practice for nearly 40 years and says it’s essential pet rabbits, especially kittens are vaccinated against the virus.
The Australian Veterinary Association recommends that kittens be vaccinated at 4, 8, and 12 weeks of age then six monthly for life.
Adult rabbits need two vaccinations a month apart, then six monthly for life.
Land managers have been laying out carrot and oat baits in a bid to ‘train’ wild rabbits to accept the baits.
Researchers believe this latest biological control will reduce the overall feral rabbit population by about 20 percent.
The RHDV1K5 virus is very easily spread, by direct and indirect handling, through clothing, shoes, grass and insects.
However it’s not believed to cause disease in any other Australian animal species.
For more information visit your local vet, or go online and view the relevant sites on the Department of Primary Industries website, www.dpi.nsw.gov.au., and/or the Australian Veterinary Association at www.ava.com.au.
By Margie TIERNEY