New strain of rabbit calicivirus under draft decision

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has recently released a draft decision to register a new naturally occurring overseas strain of rabbit calicivirus to boost the existing RHDV1 strain.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the draft decision to register RHDV K5 calicivirus was an important step towards nationally coordinated, effective management of pest animals in Australia.

“The Coalition Government is committed to tackling the impact that pest animals have on the productivity of our farmers and the returns they see at the farmgate,” Minister Joyce said.

“Rabbits cause an estimated $206 million in losses each year to our farmers, devastate the natural environment and potentially threaten over 300 endangered native species.

“Effective management of rabbits will be critical to productivity and profitability at the farmgate.”

Minister Joyce said the new K5 strain of calicivirus was identified through a government and industry partnership that searched the globe for a safe and effective new rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus.

“The Korean K5 calicivirus represents advances in the management of rabbit populations in the wild.

“This strain has been carefully assessed by government and industry. It infects only the European rabbit and a vaccine is available from veterinarians for the protection of valuable rabbits that are farmed or kept as domestic pets.

“The APVMA will now conduct a comprehensive public consultation before finalising any decision to coordinate the national release of this virus.

“Recent studies demonstrate that new rabbit biocontrol technologies such as this one have the potential to increase agricultural productivity by up to $840 million over 15 years.

“I urge all stakeholders to seize this opportunity and have their say.”

Consultation opened last week and concludes on Friday 29 January 2016. Stakeholders and members of the public should visit the APVMA website for full details.

In August this year, the Australian Government announced $1.2 million in new funding to assist the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), with oversight by the Invasive Plants and Animals Committee, with any national release of K5 calicivirus.​​

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