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Rabbit Calici Virus - Important update June 2018

Posted by Claire Cable on 21 June 2018

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Rabbit Calici Virus – Important Update June 2018

VaccYou may be aware from reports in the media that a new strain of Rabbit Calicivirus (RHDV2) has been detected in the wild rabbit population.  Caliciviruses are highly contagious so it is likely that this new strain is now wide spread in the wild rabbit population.

Please note this isn’t the strain RHDV1-K5 (Korean Strain) that was purposefully released nationwide in March this year.

The newly discovered V2 strain of Calicivirus is known to cause disease in very young rabbits from four weeks of age and can cause a longer more severe illness than seen with other strains.  This strain is highly infectious.

The current Cylap vaccine which we have to protect against the V1 strains of the virus (RHDV1 v321 and RHDV1 K5) is not effective against V2 strains.

Asure Quality is in the process of importing a new vaccine called Filavac into New Zealand which will protect pet rabbits against both the V1 and V2 strains. We hope to have this vaccine available in the next few weeks.

Because Filavac protects against all strains, going forward we will no longer be using the Cylap vaccine unless Filavac becomes unavailable.

We recommend that all rabbits regardless of their prior vaccination history are vaccinated with Filavac to ensure they are protected against the new and nasty V2 strain along with boosting immunity against the existing V1 strains.

If your rabbit is due for an annual Cylap booster vaccination, or is part way through a primary vaccination course with Cylap, we would encourage you to hold off until the new vaccine is available.

For rabbits that have recently been vaccinated with Cylap a two week interval is recommended between revaccination with Filavac.

Rabbits can be vaccinated with Filavac from ten weeks of age and require a single vaccination followed by an annual booster. It takes seven days for rabbits to develop immunity following vaccination.  The efficacy of the vaccine in rabbits younger than ten weeks of age has not been demonstrated and its use would be considered off label, and an additional vaccination is recommended at ten weeks.

Unfortunately Filavac is significantly more expensive than the current Cylap vaccine. We will confirm pricing once we have the vaccine in stock.

In the interim we encourage you to please contact us  so we can get your name on our waiting list, and we will be in touch as soon as the Filavac vaccine arrives.

In addition to Filavac vaccination, to reduce the risk of your pet rabbit becoming infected from a wild rabbit please follow the following preventative measures:

  • Control insects (especially flies and fleas) as much as possible both indoors and outdoors. Flies are the main vector through which the virus is spread.
  • Remove uneaten food daily to not attract flies.
  • Keep pet rabbits indoors where possible.
  • Rabbit-proof backyards to prevent access by wild rabbits.
  • Regularly decontaminate equipment and materials (eg. cages, hutches, bowls) with either 10% bleach or 10% sodium hydroxide. Leave for 10 minutes, then rinse off.
  • Limit contact with and handling of unfamiliar pet rabbits. Take special precautions if attending any events where unfamiliar rabbits are present, such as petting zoos, rabbit shows and rescue centres.
  • Use good biosecurity measures (eg. wash hands, shoes and clothing) after handling other people’s rabbits.
  • Isolate new rabbits for 7 days before introducing to other rabbits.
  • Rinse all leafy greens well before feeding them to rabbits. While feeding rabbits leafy greens remains a risk for introducing infection, the benefits of feeding these is considered to outweigh the risks.

If you have any questions or concerns about your rabbit please do not hesitate to contact us