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Information on the release
of the lastest 
Calicivirus strain RHDV1 K5

Important information about the RHDV1 K5 release including timeline and map of release sites are on the PestSmart website.
Updates are posted on the bottom of their webpage the last one being 13th December 2016.
Please download the PDF information booklet by selecting 'Download the RHDV1 K5 Information Guide' at the top of the webpage but please be advised it contains graphic content. The PestSmart website and booklet strongly recommends vaccinating your rabbits every 6 months. We recommend you bookmark the PestSmart website and check regularly for updates. We will post updates on our Facebook page as they become available.

Biosecurity SA/PIRSA issued the following Fact Sheet titled 'Protecting pet rabbits from Calicivirus in South Australia' (PDF) at 5pm on 24th February 2017:
Calivirus- also known as RCD or RHD

This virus was reportedly first discovered in China in 1984 and has since spread to many other countries around the world including Australia. During trials conducted on Wardang Island in 1995, the virus somehow managed to travel to the mainland. A vaccination is available to protect your pet against calici. The vaccine can cause side effects with some rabbits. It is important to keep a close eye on their behaviour and daily examine the injection site for a few days. Vets inject in the area at the back of bunnies neck and should immediately massage the site to diffuse the thick serum. To avoid an injection site abscess or sore, I strongly advise owners to continue massaging the area for longer, especially if they can feel a soft lump near the injection site.

It takes between three to ten days after vaccination for rabbits to acquire immunity. Twelve weeks is the usual recommended age for a youngster’s first vaccination. However, current advice is to give 0.2 ml to kits as early as six weeks of age (since they’ve been known to contract the virus much earlier than previously informed) and then a full dose again at 12 weeks. Annual booster shots is recommended to provide continuous protection.

Vaccination Side Effects

Minor symptoms are lack of appetite for a few days, lethargic, a slight increase in temperature and or the injection site loses a little fur with skin showing redness. Adverse serious reactions are a high temperature (check if his ears feel very hot), lesions, dermatitis, ulceration, excessive hair loss, inflammation, no appetite and depression. Serious reactions need immediate veterinary treatment (with antihistamine, corticosteroid or adrenaline) as death is a possibility.

Calicivirus Symptoms

More often than not bunnies infected with this virus are fine one day and then tragically found dead the next. Symptoms are not obvious and may only be listlessness, not wanting to move about, high temperature (from 39°C elevated to 42°C) and increased rapid breathing. Some people blame a sudden unexplained death on the virus but unless it’s confirmed via a post mortem, they can only speculate as to the true cause. A basic autopsy for calici will reveal major lesions, swollen spleen and liver. Blood clots in lungs, heart and kidneys block the vessels and consequently cause heart and respiratory failure in around thirty to forty hours. Diagnosis and treatment is usually not an option when symptoms are minimal and death so unexpected. Death from calicivirus is not painful according to those who promote use of the virus; however, bunny owners adamantly disagree, after witnessing traumatic and obviously painful calici fatalities.


‘The Wonderful World of Pet Rabbits’





Myxomatosis is caused by the myxoma virus, a poxvirus spread between rabbits by close contact and biting insects such as fleas and mosquitoes. The virus causes swelling and discharge from the eyes, nose and anogenital region of infected rabbits. Most rabbits die within 10-14 days of infection however highly virulent strains of the myxoma virus may cause death before the usual signs of infection have appeared. 

Myxomatosis was introduced to Australia in 1950 to reduce pest rabbit numbers. The virus initially reduced the wild rabbit population by 95% but since then resistance to the virus has increased and less deadly strains of the virus have emerged. Pet rabbits do not possess any resistance to myxomatosis and mortality rates are between 96-100%. With such a poor prognosis treatment is not usually recommended.

There are two vaccinations against myxomatosis, however these are not available in Australia. Thus the only way to prevent infection is to protect your pet rabbits from biting insects such as fleas and mosquitoes. Put mosquito netting around your rabbit’s hutch even if indoors (this will help to prevent flystrike aswell). If your rabbits are allowed to exercise outside avoid letting them out in the early morning or late afternoon when more mosquitoes are more numerous. Please talk to your vet about flea prevention for rabbits. You can use Revolution (Selamectin) or Advantage (Imidocloprid) for flea prevention, but you must check first with your vet for dosages. Do not use Frontline (Fipronil) as this has been associated with severe adverse reactions in rabbits.

If your pet rabbit does develop myxomatosis, your vet will advise the best course of action, which may be euthanasia. Treatment is rarely successful, even if commenced early in the infection and the course of disease is very painful and stressful. Thoroughly disinfect your rabbit hutch, water bottles and food bowls with household bleach, rinsing it off so that it cannot be ingested by any other rabbits. Bringing a new rabbit home is not recommended for at least four months after a case of myxomatosis as the virus is able to survive in the environment for some time.


RSPCA Australian Knowledge Database