Media release: Increased reports of myxomatosis
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has had an increase in the number of reports of outbreaks of myxomatosis recently.
DPI Project Manager John Matthews said observations of myxoma outbreaks are more prevalent when conditions are warm and humid like those experienced in recent weeks.
Myxomatosis persists in the environment and reoccurs when conditions are favourable and is spread by biting insects such as fleas, mosquitoes, mites, lice and flies.
He said myxomatosis was introduced in Australia as a biological control agent in 1950 to reduce the population of wild rabbits and their impact on agriculture and the environment.
Even with ideal conditions, biological controls such as myxomatosis and rabbit calicivirus (rabbit haemorraghic disease virus) are not effective at managing rabbit populations on their own.
We saw rabbit numbers reduced to low levels following the release of the rabbit haemorraghic disease virus in 1995 in arid zones but it had a lesser impact in high rainfall areas.
Over time rabbits have also developed antibodies to this disease, he said.
Mr Matthews said the viruses still play a role in rabbit management but are part of an integrated approach.
We see the best results when we implement effective rabbit control programs at optimal times when rabbit numbers are at naturally low densities – following outbreaks of myxomatosis and calicivirus.
Effective rabbit control uses an integrated approach involving ripping, fumigation, baiting and harbour removal, he said.
Landholders and community groups wanting more information on rabbit management should contact DPI on 136186 or go to www.dpi.vic.gov.au
Media contact: Sarah Hetherington, DPI Wodonga 0409 405 639