The occurrence in 1995-96 of rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) within Australia was premature and the epidemiology of the disease was not well understood. In May 1998, seventeen monitor sites were established across Victoria to collect regional information on the epidemiology of RHD. This allowed the evaluation of integrated rabbit control with RHD and determined the value of additional releases of the virus. Monitoring occurred at three-monthly intervals and included replicated spotlight counts of rabbits and the collection of serum from shot or captured rabbits. Serum was assayed using the Capucci competitive-ELISA (1: 10 dilution) and prevalence of immunity to RHDV was estimated using predictive models. The persistent high prevalence of immunity (mean 65%, range 32-99%) recorded over the past three years indicated RHD is now endemic in Victoria. Compared to population estimates recorded prior to RHD outbreaks, significant declines (mean 92%, range 77-99%) in rabbit numbers have occurred across Victorian sites. Population declines have been maintained over the past three years and are most likely due to the combined effects of coordinated, conventional rabbit control programs, natural mortality and epizootics of RHD and myxomatosis. Within Victoria, the value of further controlled releases of RHDV is likely to be limited due to the endemic nature and high prevalence of immunity to RHDV in rabbit populations.
|Author||McPhee, S., Bloomfield, T., Sandell, P. and Marks, C.|
|Secondary title||12th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference|
|Place published||Conference Location|
|Publisher||Department of Natural Resources and Environment, V|
|Control method||Biological Control|