RCD/RHD Updates/news Australia /USA
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  • June 2005 USA outbreak RHD/NZ deliberately spreading RHD July 2005
  • Animals Australia RHD press release August 2002
  • Animals Australia critique of EA report on RCD baits
  • Aussies invent virus to cause sterility in rabbits
  • Aussies invent virus to stop cane toads replicating
  • Queensland Government Review to make pet rabbits legal in Queensland
  • RHD does infect hares says NZ conference

    1.AAT win reveals External reviewer's identity/scientists to kill thousands of pet rabbits to make RCD baits.
    AAT win reveals External reviewer's name/ thousands of pet rabbits to be infected and killed to make RCD baits

    The NRA employed a single veterinary reviewer to review safety aspects of RHD virus, not a panel of independent health experts (including human health experts) and the NRA declined public input into the important issue of RCD food baits (the NRA is treating this as a "change of label"!!)

    2.New Zealand authorities end the hunt for importers of RHD virus
    NZ authorities end hunt for importers of RHD virus

    This January 2002 NZ Press Association article (see link above) says "The hunt for the importers of rabbit haemorraghic disease (RHD) is over. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry enforcement unit manager Jockey Jensen said MAF had been unable to determine who had imported the rabbit killing disease in 1997 or how they did it. The time limit for laying charges had lapsed, prompting the decision to end the investigation."

    The article also says "A 1997 application to MAF by several South Island local authorities and farmer groups to import RHD was declined, but in August of that year the discovery of thousands of dead rabbits on a Cromwell farm revealed the rabbit-killing virus had been illegally imported and released. By the time officials got to grips with the scope of the release, it was beyond control. A story of secret deals and midnight meetings in the South Island was later revealed - with a group of Mackenzie Basin farmers admitting spreading the virus." To read the full story, click on the link at the top of this excerpt.

    (NZ)Rabbits bounce back

    This March 2002 NZ Press item says rabbit numbers in some parts of New Zealand are as high as before the introduction of RCD and poisoning is planned (probably 1080).

    3.How RHD killed rabbits on one USA property (eye witness account)
    Eyewitness account of deaths of USA rabbits from RHD

    4. Is RHD infected meat sitting on USA supermarket shelves? (USA disease source).
    A representative from the USA "Coalition against RHD" said "An APHIS representative stated the New York outbreak of RHD may have been caused by RHD infected rabbit meat".

    A friend of the Coalition says the USDA told her the NY RHD outbreak investigation was now closed and the source of the outbreak was unknown.
    NY RHD outbreak closed without the source of the outbreak being identified!

    Promed's answers from USDA imply infected rabbit meat could be source of NY outbreak

    Did this rabbit meat come from a USA producer or was it imported?

    Is RHD infected rabbit meat sitting on USA supermarket shelves?

    If this is the case, the USA faces a major crisis concerning the RHD disease which survives freezing and can live on clothing for over 60 days. Anyone buying the RHD infected rabbit meat could be inadvertently spreading RHD in the USA.

    The outbreak of RHD in Mexico which nearly reached the USA in the 1980's originated in imported frozen rabbit meat!

    Americans should also be aware RHD has repeatedly broken out in Cuba (off the coast of the USA).
    Cuba RHD outbreaksIn October 2001, Cuba reported to the OIE 7 new outbreaks of rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD), all in Havana province, that occurred between May and late September. Cuba initially reported 3 outbreaks of RHD in January 2001. Periodic follow-up reports indicate that new cases continued to occur. The last reported outbreak prior to the 2001 cases was in 1997.Source: OIE reports, Jan 26, 2001, Oct 12, 2001.

    5.Australian Officials drop RCD as "local name" for RHD disease
    Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease DOES cause both coagulation and hemorrhaging in rabbits.
    Australian Officials are to stop using the name RCD for the RHD virus. (Ed:and its about time too). At a recent conference in Australia, Dr Brian Cooke stated that Australia would start using the internationally recognised name of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus instead of the name adopted by Australia of "Rabbit Calicivirus Disease". Read his paper on the RCD name debacle at
    What's in a name?, by Dr Brian Cooke

    6.Third outbreak of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease hits USA (December 2001).
    This is the third outbreak ever officially recorded in the USA. The outbreak was in New York. Read the latest news of this outbreak at on the Rabbit Information Service website based in Australia at RCD information pages

    7.Join the USA Coalition Against VHD
    If you live in the USA or Canada and you want to stay informed about Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease, we recommend you join the Coalition against RHD at Coalition against RHD (USA/Canada)

    8.Does Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease infect humans?
    The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the USA is collecting human blood sera from those exposed to RHD in the USA. Their letter says testing of these samples is ongoing. Read the CDC letter at:
    Letters from CDC USA

    9.Australia is considering legalising RHD coated baits while no monitoring/surveillance exists.
    Australian authorities are considering an application to spread RHD on food baits (RHD food baits are not legal anywhere in the world except in New Zealand. Also in NZ, rabbits with RHD have been found with their ears rotting away and taking weeks to die). There is no surveillance or monitoring in place in Australia to monitor Australian native animals who may ingest RHD in unknown quantities on food baits and CSIRO tests showed possible RHD infection in some Australian native animals (their antibody levels were above the 30% cut-off even though they were given low doses of RHD virus). If you wish to protest at the deliberate spread of RHD on food baits, there is a pre-made letter you can send to the NRA (National Registration Authority - who has the final say in approving the RHD baits) at Letter of protest to Australian authorities re RHD food baits

    10.Environment Australia alleged to have approved RHD baits
    Sources have informed me Environment Australia is to give its approval to the RHD food baits. We have asked for a copy of their report to evaluate the basis on which Environment Australia may consider RHD safe to deliberately spread on food baits. Animals Australia may also be submitting a Freedom of Information request to obtain a copy of this new document as it is probable access will be denied using the old excuse of "Commercial in Confidence".

    11."Secret reviewer" employed by NRA to review RHD baits in Australia.
    The Environmental Defenders Office in Perth, Western Australia is helping me with an appeal to reveal the name of a "secret reviewer" who the NRA has engaged to review the Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease bait information. There is absolutely no reason for any reviewer to remain annonymous when they are being paid with taxpayers money to review a deadly virus to be spread across the Australian Continent. At one time in New Zealand a "secret panel" was chosen to review RHD data and this panel was revealed under FOI and everything was made public after this time. There is absolutely no need for secrecy in the consideration of RHD as a biological control agent in Australia. The public has a right to know every detail of the RCD baits proposal as the further spread of RHD in Australia will put more people and animals in contact with unknown quantities of the RHD virus.

    12.An article from Medline shows pigs are infected by RHD.
    See the updated link showing
    Hares, Australian Native Animals and Pigs are infected by RHD (RCD)

    13.USA scientist speaks out against RHD as a biocontrol agent of rabbits in Australia.
    Personal email from Dr Alvin Smith concerning species specificity of RHD baits as a biocontrol of rabbits. Dr Alvin Smith is one of the most knowledgable scientists in the world on Caliciviruses


    Dear Mrs. Wegner:

    Regarding your questions of risk to non target species when using RHD on carrots or any other baits, this is bad stuff all over again. Every argument we have used in the past is still valid and we used about all of them. I guess that in the end those who push this through because of their own self interests or their political motivations and without proper regard for safety will ultimately be accountable for their actions. In the mean time, God protect all the rest of us from them. We know enough to know that the hemorrhagic component is the deadly joker in the deck and that anyone depending on the species specificity of this virus as the sole defence against it infecting humans or any other non-targeted species either does not know their virology or they are listening to foolish advice. Public Health has simply been placed on a tight rope, ie. RHD host specificity and there is no safety net. Think about it. The only safeguard against disaster is that of trusting that the virus will not move to and adapt to other species.

    Many of the agents most feared as bioweapons are not human agents, they are animal disease agents that do "jump" species.The proof that devastating mutational changes have already occurred with this virus is the rabbits themselves. Before 1984 Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease did not exist. Now it does. For those who want to promote the unlikely theory that the virus existed in rabbits before 1984 but then over-night mutated into a killer hemorrhagic virus rather than being introduced into rabbits from some other species, give them their point. Then use this very example of RHD mutability to destroy their assertions that the virus is so genetically dependable that it will not mutate into unwanted forms, and can be trusted not to infect or cause health problems for any other non-rabbit species. They can not have it both ways. To believe that within 76 hours of a load of German rabbits landing in China, this calicivirus mutates into a devastating killer virus in a host that has been well adapted to the virus for years (thousands, tens, millions, pick any length of time) takes a much greater faith in this viruses propensity for mutational reconfiguration than is needed for the virus to simply infect a new closely related(mammalian) species.

    Surely no scientist and certainly no serious Public Servant will want to argue that the RHD virus is safe and will not mutate to infect or become deadly in any other species when its sudden and deadly appearance in rabbits can only be explained by cross species transmission or by rapid and profound mutational changes. Of course such rapid genetic changes could have been brought about by purposeful laboratory manipulations but the ramifications of such things are simply unthinkable. This all leads to the question of the propriety and advisability of why there is need for hiring people who will make recommendations for spreading RHD baits but only do this anonymously. I hope this answers some of the issues.

    Highest Regards:

    Dr. Alvin W. Smith
    Laboratory for Calicivirus Studies

    For more RHD information go to RHD pages at Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RCD) pages

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