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Prior to registering RHDV1 K5 for use in wild rabbit control in Australia, the NSW Department of Primary Industries undertook a validation study to examine the vaccine for suitability in protecting domestic and production rabbits from RHDV1 K5. This experiment compared the mortality of a small number of vaccinated and unvaccinated rabbits that were subsequently infected with a high dose of RHDV1 K5.

All of the rabbits vaccinated with the currently available vaccine survived infection with RHDV1 K5. None of the unvaccinated rabbits survived.

This experiment indicates that the currently registered vaccine is likely to protect pet rabbits against RHDV1 K5.

Pet rabbit owners are advised to discuss with their veterinarian how best to take care of their rabbits. Zoetis, the manufacture of the Cylap® vaccine, has confirmed that additional vaccine supplies are being made available in New Zealand.

Note:  The Australian Veterinary Association recommends a more intensive vaccination protocol for Australian domestic rabbits because of risks associated with a different type of calicivirus called RHDV2.  RHDV2 is not present in New Zealand.

Additional precautions

  • Prevent direct and indirect contact between domestic and wild rabbits.
  • Avoid cutting grass and feeding it to rabbits if there is the risk of contamination from wild rabbits.
  • Wash hands, with warm soapy water between handling rabbits.
  • Good insect control is also important and will help reduce the risks of introduction.  Insect control could include insect proofing the hutch or keeping the rabbits indoors.
  • Infected rabbits should be isolated and disposed of in a manner that will minimise environmental contamination.
  • All cages and equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Disinfectants that can be used to decontaminate any equipment include 10 % bleach, 10 % sodium hydroxide, or parvocide disinfectants. If using disinfectants material safety data sheets must be available and consulted, prior to use. Autoclaving will also kill the virus.