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Release of new strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus in Tasmania (February 2017)

To combat the threat of rabbits within Australia, the national release of a Korean strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, (known as RHDV1 K5) will commence from the first week of March, 2017. Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus is also known as rabbit calicivirus.

The release of RHDV1 K5 comes after more than 10 years of testing through the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre RHD Boost project and includes participation by over 600 community groups and land managers across Australia, including ten sites in Tasmania.

Biosecurity Tasmania will administer the RHDV1 K5 bait to the Tasmanian site land managers under permit requirements. The release sites are:

North- Barrington, Binalong Bay, Bridgenorth, Falmouth, Jackeys Marsh, Railton and Rowella.

South - Cambridge, Hobart and Port Arthur.

As part of the project, the public is being urged to get involved by helping to track the spread of the virus through downloading the RabbitScan (FeralScan) smart phone app, where you can easily report evidence of disease to assist land managers across Australia understand the movement of the virus.

To report sightings of rabbits or evidence of disease in your region visit www.rabbitscan.org.au, or download via the iTunes or GooglePlay stores through searching for 'FeralScan'.

Visit the PestSmart website for more details on the national release of RHDV1 K5.

RHDV1 K5 only affects European rabbits and is a naturally occurring variant of RHDV1 from Korea.   RHDV1 K5 poses no risk to human health or other non-target species. However, domestic rabbits and farmed rabbits may be affected. It is recommended that domestic rabbit owners and commercial rabbit breeders consult their local veterinarian about vaccinations and provide additional protection against the virus by keeping rabbits inside or in insect-proof enclosures.

Later this year (likely to be between May and June 2017), Biosecurity Tasmania expect to undertake another release of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus if conditions are favourable for effective release.

For further information on Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, please contact Biosecurity Tasmania - for  Northern Tasmania ring (03)  6421 7635, and in Southern Tasmania ring (03) 6165 3265.