New strain of rabbit calicivirus detected

Stock image.
Stock image.

A NEW strain of the rabbit virus calicivirus has been detected in WA.

Department of Agriculture and Food research officer Susan Campbell said the haemorrhagic virus strain known as RHDV2 was confirmed in the Perth metropolitan area.

“Rabbits are a widespread and common pest,” Dr Campbell said.

“A Czech strain of RHDV1 has been used as a biocontrol for rabbits in Australia since 1996 and has had a significant impact in reducing pest populations.

“It is important to note that RHDV2 is different, and it is not known how it arrived in Australia.”

Dr Campbell said researchers were monitoring how rapidly RHDV2 was spreading across the country and what impact it may have on pest rabbit populations.

Owners of pet rabbits or breeding stock are urged to implement strict biosecurity measures to protect their animals from infection.

WA landholders are encouraged to report suspected outbreaks of RHDV2 to the department on 1800 084 881.