New Strain of Rabbit Calicivirus Released in the Hills.

The latest strain of Rabbit Calicivirus, code named K5, was released at 3 sites in the Barrabool Hills during February.

Developed by the CSIRO, distributed by the Rabbit Action Network and the Biosecurity and Agriculture Services section of the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, the local release was fully managed by volunteers from the Barrabool Hills Landcare Group, supported by the Surf Coast Shire.

According to the Department’s John Matthews, “a successful release is reliant on several factors, a rabbit population where a high proportion of the population is naive and vulnerable to K5; a rabbit population with minimum number of juvenile animals present at time of release; suitable vectors present (blowflies and bush flies); and favourable climatic conditions that aid the spread.

BHLG Equipment Manager, Trevor Jones prepares the virus for release.

He went on to say, “the very preliminary data indicates a 42 per cent average reduction in wild rabbit numbers where RHDV1 K5 was released. RHDV1 K5 has been successfully established at a number of Victorian release sites, rabbits are dying and the disease has spread to a number of non release sites.

According to Community Engagement Officer Heidi Kleinert, “rabbit location data and samples are provided by community and government stakeholders through Rabbit Scan. This is the primary method that allows us to detect, track and monitor the spread and impact of RHDV1 K5 away from the release sites.

For more information visit: https://www.feralscan.org.au/rabbitscan/map.aspx?mapMode=rhdv. The website provides information by state and strain detected.

Vic release sites K5 virus

The attached map indicates the location of the Victorian K5 release sites.

Note: RHDV = rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus, or rabbit calicivirus (RCV)

Ed.