This title might sound like scare-mongering, but in fact- it’s true. In 1997, rabbit calicivirus was introduced to New Zealand in the hopes of controlling (and devastating) the wild rabbit population. The virus was initially highly successful. Although a certain percentage of wild rabbits still die from infection with calicivirus, many rabbit populations have now developed resistance (the virus cannot kill them).
Introducing RHDV1 K5. This is a different strain of the same calicivirus that already exists in New Zealand. This new strain should be able to kill a lot of the resistant rabbits. MPI plans on introducing this strain to NZ within the next year.
How do you protect your pet bunny from this new virus?
The fact is that your pet bunny is likely NOT resistant to either strain. This means that it should already be vaccinated to protect it from the current NZ strain. This vaccination then should protect it against the new strain.
The company that makes the vaccine does not have a label claim that it protects against RHDV1 K5. HOWEVER, in all of the initial trials, vaccinated bunnies survived when exposed to RHDV1 K5… while all unvaccinated bunnies died. Sounds like it’s time to vaccinate the bunnies….