Rabbits are Australian agricultures most costly pest animal: the annual cost exceeds $215 million.
The RHD-Boost project has identified a new strain of RHDV from South Korea (referred to as K5) that is suitable for release into Australia’s rabbit population. K5 has been shown to better overcome the protective effects of the benign virus RCV-A1 amongst the strains tested.
This project will extend and significantly enhance the outcomes and outputs of the original RHD Boost project, which will allow the broad-scale release of RHDV1 K5 into the Australian rabbit population to be more effectively monitored. Enhanced and broad-scale virus release and monitoring is necessary to;
Recently the incursion of two new strains of calicivirus has been reported. In 2014 a strain closely related to an RHDVa strain from China was identified and, in 2015, the presence of the antigenic variant RHDV2 was confirmed in wild and domestic rabbits. With these two new strains there will be four different virulent calicivirus strains in the Australian environment, in addition to nonpathogenic strains of calicivirus that are also known to circulate. For the impact assessment of K5 it is therefore critically important that reliable discriminative diagnostic assays are developed. This includes effective assays for the molecular characterisation of the viruses recovered from dead or
recovering rabbits during or shortly after virus outbreaks, as well as serological assays to discriminate between antibodies raised to the respective strains.
To expand and significantly enhance the planned release of K5 to include >40 broad-scale sites
This project is funded through an external research grant separate to the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions current innovation portfolio
National release of RHDV1 K5 at more than 350 sites across Australia in March 2017