PROTECTING YOUR RABBITS AGAINST CALICIVIRUS
There are a number of strains of Calicivirus in Australia that can cause death in wild and pet rabbits. RHDV1 was a virus that was released in 1995. The RHDV1-K5 variant was released in early March 2017. These strains are contagious and are transmitted via direct contact with infected rabbits, via fomites (objects that can carry infection) and via vectors such as flies.
Existing evidence based on a study done by the NSW Department of Primary Industries suggests that the current vaccination available is effective against the RHDV1-K5 variant.
Vaccinations should be carried out for Kittens (baby rabbits) at 4, 8 and 12 weeks of age and then every 6 months and for adult rabbits, 2 vaccinations 1 month apart and then every 6 months.
Apart from vaccination, it is also recommended to take extra precautions. These include preventing direct and indirect contact between pet and wild rabbits. Avoid cutting and feeding grass to pet rabbits if there is a risk of contamination from wild rabbits. Practise good insect control by insect proofing the hutch or keeping your pet rabbit indoors. Also practise good hygiene by washing hands with warm soapy water between handling rabbits.