Rabbit virus RHDV1 K5 coming soon: know how to protect your pets

Rabbit owners are being warned to take precautions to protect their pets from a new virus strain called RHDV1 K5 which is set to be released soon.

The new strain of the rabbit calicivirus will be released nationally at the end of the month in a new bid to control wild rabbit numbers.

It is a Korean strain of the calicivirus, now called Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus or RHDV1. 

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has issued a new biosecurity bulletin for rabbit owners, advising what should be done in readiness for RHDV1 K5.

DPI invasive species manager Quentin Hart said RHDV1 was first released here in 1996 to manage the impact of pest rabbits on the environment and agriculture.

“To help prevent domestic rabbits from becoming infected with RHDV1 K5 pet owners should consult their veterinarian and follow vaccination recommendations,” Mr Hart said.

Pet rabbit owners are being asked to take steps ahead of the release of the disease RHDV1 K5.

Pet rabbit owners are being asked to take steps ahead of the release of the disease RHDV1 K5.

In addition to getting your rabbit vaccination, DPI advises rabbit owners to take these steps:

  • Prevent direct and indirect contact between domestic and wild rabbits
  • Protect rabbits from insects to reduce risks of RHDV and myxomatosis – use insect-proof hutches and keep rabbits indoors
  • Wash your hands with warm soapy water between handling rabbits

Landholders, working with DPI and Local Land Services, plan to release RHDV1 K5 in more than 200 sites across NSW, from late February until early March.

“We are targeting wild rabbits which cost more than $200 million in lost agricultural production annually and wreak havoc on the environment, with a direct impact on 304 threatened native plant and animal species,” Mr Hart said.