Weather and the long-distance movement of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) escaped from a quarantined field trial in Australia in 1995 and spread through much of the Australian wild rabbit population within a year. On several occasions during this period RHDV established new foci of infection several hundred kilometres from previously reported outbreaks. These discontinuous range expansions were often associated with unusually heavy rainfall and/or with the movement of small low-pressure systems across the Australian continent. Vertical and horizontal air movement within low pressure systems could move vector-borne or aerosolised micro-organisms long distances, following which they might be returned to earth by downdrafts associated with heavy rain. This paper discusses two of these movements and the associated weather conditions. An understanding of long-distance movements of RHDV could contribute to our knowledge of the epidemiology of RHD, but it may also have wider implications, related to exotic disease control, to the determination of appropriate conditions for confining potential new candidate biocontrol agents under quarantine while they are being field tested prior to their possible release, and to the understanding of the epidemiology of any disease which is spread by wind-borne vectors or aerosol.

Author Henzell, R.
Date 2005-05-02
Year 2005
Secondary title 13th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference
Place published Wellington, NZ
Publisher Landcare Research
Institution SA Annimal and Plant Control Commission
Pages 245-249
Control method Biological Control
Region SA
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