27 June 2018

Testing of two wild rabbits found on a Rotoehu farm has confirmed the presence of the already identified new strain of the calicivirus in the Bay of Plenty.

This is the second time that the strain has been confirmed in New Zealand. The first confirmation was in a single wild rabbit found on Marlborough farm in May. Called RHDV2, the new strain is widespread in Europe, but until recently it had not been found in New Zealand.

Greg Corbett, Bay of Plenty Regional Council biosecurity manager said, although landowners will be happy about a new strain helping them in their war against wild rabbits, pet rabbit owners may be concerned, and advises them to talk to their vets.

“It’s not uncommon for new strains to spread, and a rabbit owner’s best defence is to make sure their pets are up to date with their vaccinations,” said Corbett. 

Pet rabbit owners can also protect against the virus by limiting their contact with wild rabbits. There are a number of practical steps rabbit owners can take to minimise the risk to their rabbits.

  • Keep them separate from wild rabbits.
  • Wash hands between handling rabbits.
  • Control insects around pet rabbits as they can spread the virus between rabbits.
  • Avoid cutting grass and feeding it to pet rabbits.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect cages and equipment.

For further information, talk with your vet or refer to further information on MPI’s website.