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7 November 1997
The Ministry of Agriculture has been advised that the rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD) was released in the Hawkes Bay about a week ago. Farmers at a meeting in
Palmerston North this morning informed MAF officials of the release.
The meeting, which was designed to share information about RCD, was also attended by Hawkes Bay, Manawatu-Wanganui and Taranaki Regional Councils, Federated
Farmers groups from those areas, and the Department of Conservation. The Rural Futures Trust also provided information on its experiences with RCD in the South Island.
In light of the news of the North Island release, MAF's Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Barry O'Neil said owners of rabbits should take precautions not to expose them to the virus, or should have them vaccinated. He said there had been reports of pet rabbits in South Island dying from the disease.
Dr O'Neil said farmers reported the virus was killing wild rabbits in the area, but said it was too early to say whether the introduction would be successful or not. He said he had been informed that an earlier release of the virus was made in the same area in late August or early September, but was unsuccessful.
MAF has received no reports of releases of the virus in other parts of the North Island.
The Biosecurity (Rabbit Calicivirus) Regulations 1997, which came into effect on 24 September, made it lawful under the Biosecurity Act for individuals to harvest, possess and spread material containing RCD virus.
Dr O'Neil said today's meeting - and a similar one with Waikato and Bay of Plenty regional councils and farmers yesterday - had been very positive, with farmers and regional councils agreeing to meet further to discuss how to co-ordinate releases of the virus in their areas. He restated that MAF itself would not be directly involved in releasing the virus but would provide appropriate information.
Media inquiries to:
Dr Barry O'Neil, Chief Veterinary Officer, (021) 470 582
Debbie Gee, Manager, Corporate Communications, (04) 474 4258/(025) 465 870