The Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia is releasing a new strain of Calici virus as part of a national program to reduce numbers of feral rabbits. This will begin from Spring 2016 and then again Autumn 2017.
It appears that they are using baits to distribute the virus amongst feral rabbit populations.
Calici Virus is a highly infectious and often fatal disease that affects both wild and domestic rabbit populations. The incubation period for the virus is between 1 to 3 days, with death following 1 to 2 days after the infection. There is a wide range of symptoms including fever, squeals, and often coma leading to death within 12 to 36 hours. In less severe cases, rabbits may display uneasiness, excitement, anorexia, swollen eyelids, paralysis, ocular haemorrhages, and “paddling”. Convulsions may be seen as well. A bloody discharge from the nose can be seen along with blood-stained cage floors, though these symptoms usually occur after death.
This is a good reminder that the Calici Virus vaccination for our pet rabbits is now a biannual vaccine that is given every 6 months.