Between 13-27 May 2022, Yass Valley Council, in conjunction with South East Local Land Services, will be releasing the calicivirus (RHDV K5) to control the local, feral rabbit population. It is important that domestic rabbit owners in the Yass Valley local government area vaccinate their rabbits and/or ensure their vaccinations are up to date prior to the release.

There are a number of RHDV strains present in Australia: RHDV 1 Cz351- Czech strain released in 1995 RHDV1A – Variant of type 1 isolated in Sydney in 2014 RHDV1 K5 – Korean strain released in March 2017 RHDV 2 – First recorded in mid-2015 in Australia, 2010 in Europe RCV – A1 Non-pathogenic virus present in wild population There has been some confusion between the new variant of RHDV1 (K5) and the discovery in 2015 of RHDV2 in wild and pet rabbits.. This new virus is called RHDV2, but is a different virus to RHDV1 and K5.

The pathogenic strains of the virus (RHDV1 Cz351, RHDV1 K5 and RHDV2) are considered contagious and can be transmitted via; direct contact with infected rabbits, fomites, transmission via equipment and clothing, transmission by vectors including flies. Use of a parvovirus type cleaning protocol is recommended after suspicious cases.

Protection against RHDV1 strains Based on scientific evidence to date, the existing RHDV1 vaccine (known as Cylap®) is effective against RHDV1 K5.

This evidence is based on a small pilot study undertaken by NSW Department of Primary Industries. It is recommended that all domestic rabbit owners be reminded to vaccinate their rabbits prior to the release of RHDV1 K5 and/or ensure their animals’ vaccinations are up-to-date.

Precautions for rabbit owners The Department of Primary Industries recommend that rabbit owners take the following extra precautions: Prevent direct and indirect contact between domestic and wild rabbits. Avoid cutting grass and feeding it to rabbits if there is the risk of contamination from wild rabbits.

Wash hands, with warm soapy water between handling rabbits. Good insect control is also important and will help reduce the risks of introduction of both RHDV and myxomatosis. Insect control could include insect proofing the hutch or keeping the rabbits indoors. Infected rabbits should be isolated and disposed of in a manner that will minimise environmental contamination.

All cages and equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Disinfectants that can be used to decontaminate any equipment include 10 % bleach, 10 % sodium hydroxide, or parvocide disinfectants. If using disinfectants material safety data sheets must be available and consulted, prior to use. Autoclaving will also kill the virus.