RHDV1 K5: What about my pet rabbit?

RHDV1 K5 is a variant of the strain of RHDV1 already used in Australia. RHDV1 K5 is not a new type of virus. There is a vaccine (Cylap®) for prevention of RHDV1 disease that has been available in Australia since 1996.

Prior to registering RHDV1 K5 for use in wild rabbit control, a NSW Department of Primary Industries validation study through the Invasive Animals CRC examined the vaccine for suitability in protecting domestic and production rabbits from RHDV1 K5. This experiment compared the mortality of a small number of vaccinated and unvaccinated rabbits that were subsequently infected with a high dose of RHDV1 K5.

All of the rabbits vaccinated with the currently available vaccine survived the infection with RHDV1 K5. None of the unvaccinated rabbits survived.

This experiment indicates that the currently registered vaccine is likely to protect pet rabbits against RHDV1 K5.

Read more about the evidence behind vaccine efficacy:

Measures to minimise RHDV1 infection in pet ‘domestic’ rabbits

As per their website, The AVA recommends that rabbits are vaccinated against RHDV (calicivirus) as follows:

  • Kittens: 4, 8, 12 weeks of age, then 6 monthly for life.
  • Adults: 2 vaccinations 1 month apart, then 6 monthly for life.

This protocol is off-label. Cylap is not registered for 6 monthly use or for use against RHDV2.

Vaccination should always be administered to healthy animals, and a risk/benefit discussion with an owner is strongly recommended before vaccination of animals with chronic illness. Young animals are anecdotally more likely to show post-vaccination lethargy and inappetence. It is common to get a local reaction to the vaccine, especially if vaccination is not performed with a new needle, or if the vaccine is inadvertently given intradermally.

More information:

   Link:   Boosting rabbit biocontrol: RHDV1 K5 national elease