Update on the national release of RHDV1 K5
The national release of RHDV1 K5 is still being proposed to take place in 2017. The release and monitoring of RHDV1 K5 will require the assistance of many individual landholders, community groups, landcare groups and government agencies who have already expressed interest in being involved.
These individuals and groups were recently emailed to confirm their interest in being involved in the program, and thanks to everyone who replied. The EOI sites have also been sent to our state and territory jurisdictional partners as to provide advice to our research team in best allocating the free virus vials around the country.
RHDV1 K5 is not a new virus; it is a Korean variant of RHDV1 and specific to the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). After rigorous research testing, it was selected as it is considered to work better in the cooler and wetter regions of Australia, than the current Czech strain of RHDV1 (v351). As such these regions may be favoured during the selection process.
However, it should be emphasised that as European rabbits in Australia have been exposed to the Czech strain of RHDV1, they are not a naïve population of pest rabbits. Therefore, the release of RHDV1 K5 will not result in a 90% reduction of the pest rabbit population (as seen with previous rabbit virus release programs). It is still vital that conventional rabbit management techniques are undertaken and incorporated as part of any management program.
Next steps: A number of government approvals are still being processed, while this happens the RHD Boost research team are finalising release site submissions and obtaining advice from the state and territory jurisdictional partners on a proposed national program. As the team gears up for this, they will aim to make contact with all EOI recipients to reconfirm final details and to advise on the success of applicants. Make sure you keep checking your emails for updates.