MPI receives application for new strain of rabbit virus

Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has received an application to approve the use of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Virus Disease RHDV1 –K5 for pest rabbit management.

RHDV (Czech strain) already exists in New Zealand, after it was introduced in 1997. This 2017 application is for a Korean strain that isn't currently found here.

MPI has notified the application under the Agricultural Compound Veterinary and Medicines Act (ACVM), and will consider any submissions before making any decision on the data that has been submitted in support of the registration.

"We are keen to hear from the public, including pet owners. The consultation closes on 14 December 2017," says Allan Kinsella, MPI Director Systems Audit, Assurance and Monitoring.

MPI will consider benefits of the release to the agricultural sector, as well as identification and management of risks to animal welfare, agricultural impacts, trade and public health matters associated with the virus. This will include consideration of the risks posed to non-target animals such as pet rabbits.

"The strain of RHDV that already exists in New Zealand has a vaccine which is being used to protect against the new strain in other countries. As part of MPI's assessment we will be considering evidence of protection against the new strain," says Mr Kinsella.

Any new strain that is released, propagated, and sold also needs to be approved under the Biosecurity Act.

RHDV1-K5 strain will only be approved if it meets the requirements under the ACVM and Biosecurity Acts.

The Canterbury Regional Council has made the application. The intent is to introduce the strain nationally.

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