Rabbit owners take care, calicivirus confirmed in the ACT

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A new strain of RHDV, commonly known as calicivirus, has been confirmed in a wild rabbit in the ACT.

“If you own a rabbit there are a few precautions you can take to protect your pet,” Dr Wendy Townsend, Biosecurity Veterinary Officer, Territory and Municipal Services, said.

“The new strain of RHDV, called RHDV-2, is similar to all other strains of the virus and spreads easily between rabbits. No strain of RHDV has ever been associated with disease in humans.

“The infected rabbit was found by a research group that carries out routine monitoring of rabbit diseases. This is an isolated incident and further cases of infection with this virus have not yet been reported.

“The virus can spread through contact with infected rabbits, objects that an infected rabbit has touched such as rabbit food, bedding, brushes and clothing/footwear. The virus can also be spread by blood sucking insects such as mosquitoes, biting flies, lice and mites.

“You can help protect your pet rabbit by ensuring your fences are secure so your pet cannot leave your yard and wild rabbits cannot enter. Keep your rabbit’s house clean and when you replace the hay or ground cover use fresh clean material, not material collected outside your yard.

“The most important thing you can do to protect your pet is ensure your rabbit’s vaccinations are up to date, and stick to your vaccination program to avoid vaccination gaps.

“A vaccine against this particular virus strain is not yet available, but the current vaccine may offer partial protection and is also likely to slow virus spread in case of an outbreak.

“Symptoms of RHDV-2 are very similar to RHDV in cases seen overseas however the disease is more prolonged.

“If you have noticed symptoms in your rabbit consult your veterinarian immediately,” Dr Townsend concluded.

For specific information about the RHDV-2 virus currently circulating in Europe please visit IDT animal health website.

[Photo by Richard Taylor, attribution licence]

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