RABBIT owners in the Tweed Shire are being urged to make sure their pet’s vaccinations are up to date, ahead of the release of a dangerous disease which is aimed at controlling wild rabbits. Tim Edwards
RABBIT owners in the Tweed Shire are being urged to make sure their pet’s vaccinations are up to date, ahead of the release of a dangerous disease which is aimed at controlling wild rabbits. Tim Edwards

WARNING: Deadly disease about to be released in the Tweed

RABBIT owners in the Tweed Shire have been urged to make sure their pet's vaccinations are up to date, before a cull of wild rabbits takes place across the region.

The disease calicivirus will be released into the into the wild rabbit population in an effort to control the pests, a statement from Tweed Shire Council said.

The council has warned pet rabbits in the Tweed could be affected if their vaccinations are not up to date.

The council's Program Leader Pest Management Wildlife Protection, Pamela Gray said less than one rabbit per hectare is enough to stop the growth of some native species and negatively affect biodiversity, leading to further loss of native plant and animal species.

It is for this reason the council has decide to release the virus in the coming months.

"Wild rabbits are considered a biosecurity risk, and measures must be put in place to control their numbers," Ms Gray said.

"One of the measures that will be used in the Tweed to control rabbits is a release of RHDV1 K5, a calicivirus strain. Calcivirus was successful in reducing numbers of wild rabbits on the Tweed Coast in late 2017.

"The new strain of calicivirus was first released nationally as a biological control in February 2017 and may be released in the Tweed in September.

"Council strongly urges residents with pet rabbits to make sure their vaccinations are up to date to reduce the chances of their rabbit catching the virus."

A researcher on calicivirus vaccination, Victorian Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Cameron Bell, advised the current vaccine was expected to provide good protection against all strains of the RHDV1 virus, including the K5 strain. The recommended vaccination frequency is now every six months, instead of every 12 months.

"Owners can also protect their pet rabbits against the virus by ensuring their pets do not come into contact with wild rabbits or eat grass that has been grazed on by wild rabbits," Ms Gray said.

"The virus can also be transmitted by fleas, mosquitoes and flies, so try to ensure hutches are insect-proof."

For more information visit https://www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/Rabbits



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