RABBIT OWNERS URGED TO VACCINATE AGAINST NEW VIRUS STRAIN AHEAD OF PLANNED NATIONWIDE RELEASE IN MARCH
RSPCA WA is urging rabbit owners to take their pet to the vet before March 1 to discuss vaccination options and other precautionary measures ahead of the planned release of a new strain of the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus – known as RHDV1-K5.
RHDV1-K5 is a strain of the rabbit disease, Calicivirus, originating from Korea and set to be released at more than 600 sites across Australia in the first week of March to cull the wild rabbit population.
RHDV1-K5 is fatal to rabbits without immunity, so all pet rabbits should be vaccinated against the strain as a precautionary measure.
While the currently available RHDV1 vaccine Cylap has shown some protection against the K5 strain in small pilot trials, the RSPCA believes further trials must be undertaken to provide real certainty regarding its effectiveness.
“For now, the Cylap vaccine is the best chance rabbit owners have of protecting their pet from the release of this new strain,” said Dr Jess Moore-Jones, Executive Manager Animal Services RSPCA WA.
“While we would prefer to see the release of RHDV1-K5 delayed – until the full efficacy of Cylap against the K5 strain can be determined – we are urging rabbit owners to go ahead with the vaccination to give their pet the best chance of protection against this deadly virus,” Dr Moore-Jones added.
“We also encourage rabbit owners to protect their pet from other rabbits as well as insects – especially flies – and even bring their outdoor pets inside where possible,” Dr Moore-Jones continued.
Rabbit owners are advised to monitor their pet’s health closely following the release of the K5 strain in early March, and to seek urgent veterinary care at the first sign of illness.
Notes to Editor:
Detailed information on the release of RHDV1K5: http://www.pestsmart.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/RabbitRHDVK5_infopack_13-12-16-online.pdf
RSPCA information and advice for rabbit owners: http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-is-rabbit-calicivirus-and-how-do-I-protect-my-rabbit-from-rabbit-haemorrhagic-disease_630.html