Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Antibody status and survival of Australian wild rabbits challenged with rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus

S. R. McPhee A B F , K. L. Butler A , J. Kovaliski C , G. Mutze C , L. Capucci D and B. D. Cooke E

A Department of Primary Industries, 600 Sneydes Road, Werribee, Vic. 3030, Australia.

B Agricultural Technical Services Pty Ltd, 177 Ballan Road, Werribee, Vic. 3030, Australia.

C Department for Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation, GPO Box 2834, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.

D Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emillia, Via Bianchi 7, 25124 Brescia, Italy.

E Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre, Building 3, Level D, University of Canberra Campus, Canberra, ACT 2611, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: Steve.McPhee@dpi.vic.gov.au

Wildlife Research 36(5) 447-456 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR08137
Submitted: 25 September 2008  Accepted: 18 May 2009   Published: 21 July 2009

Abstract

In Australia, the epidemiology of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) is complicated by non-pathogenic forms of calicivirus (bCV) co-circulating with RHDV and providing variable protection from RHDV. Currently no bCV virus-specific antibody tests exist; however, a series of four ELISAs used to detect antibodies to RHDV provided an indirect means to detect antibodies to bCV, enabling antibody categories of seronegative, maternal RHDV, RHDV or bCV to be determined. Rabbits (188) from four locations were challenged with RHDV and logistic regression models determined that, for rabbits <15 months old, survival was dependent on antibody titres alone and the relationship did not vary with age, capture site, gender, liveweight or reproductive status. All rabbits survived challenge after reaching 15 months of age, irrespective of their antibody titres. Where bCV antibodies were prevalent in young rabbits, the bCV category did not adequately summarise all information about rabbit survival that can be obtained from antibody titres. Within antibody categories, 95% of rabbits with RHDV, 33% with bCV, 40% with maternal RHDV and 22% with seronegative antibodies survived. The high survival rate of adults implies that natural outbreaks or controlled releases of RHDV will have little impact on adult breeding rabbits. Therefore, where RHDV and bCV are endemic, conventional rabbit-control programs targeting the immune breeding populations should provide the most predictable outcome for long-term maintenance of low rabbit populations.


References

Bowen Z. Read J. 1998 Population and demographic patterns of rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) at Roxby Downs in arid South Australia and the influence of rabbit haemorrhagic disease. Wildlife Research 25 655 662 doi:10.1071/WR98004

Bruce J. S. Twigg L. E. 2004 Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus: serological evidence of a non-virulent RHDV-like virus in south-western Australia. Wildlife Research 31 605 612 doi:10.1071/WR04009

Bruce J. S. Twigg L. E. 2005 The reintroduction, and subsequent impact, of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus in a population of wild rabbits in south-western Australia. Wildlife Research 32 139 150 doi:10.1071/WR04025

Capucci L. Scicluna M. T. Lavazza A. 1991 Diagnosis of viral haemorrhagic disease of rabbits and the European brown hare syndrome. Revue Scientifique et Technique de l’Office International des Epizooties 10 347 370

Capucci L. Fusi P. Lavazza A. Pacciarini M. L. Rossi C. 1996 Detection and preliminary characterisation of a new calicivirus related to rabbit haemorrhagic disease but non-pathogenic. Journal of Virology 70 8614 8623


Capucci L. Nardin A. Lavazza A. 1997 Sercoconversion in an industrial unit of rabbits infected with a non-pathogenic rabbit haemorrhagic disease-like virus. Veterinary Record 140 647 650


Collins B. J. White J. R. Lenghaus C. Morrissy C. J. Westbury H. A. 1996 Presence of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus in rabbit tissues as revealed by monoclonal antibody dependent capture ELISA. Journal of Virological Methods 58 145 154
doi:10.1016/0166-0934(96)02004-6

Cooke B. D. (1999). Rabbit Calicivirus Disease Program Report 2: epidemiology, spread and release in wild rabbit populations in Australia. A report of research conducted by participants of the Rabbit Calicivirus Disease Monitoring and Surveillance Program and Epidemiology Research Program. Prepared for the RCD Management Group, Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra.

Cooke B. D. 2002 Rabbit haemorrhagic disease: field epidemiology and the management of wild rabbit populations. Revue Scientifique et Technique – Office International des Épizooties 21 347 358

Cooke B. D. Robinson A. J. Merchant J. C. Nardin A. Capucci L. 2000 Use of ELISAs in field studies of rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) in Australia. Epidemiology and Infection 124 563 576
doi:10.1017/S0950268899003994

Cooke B. D. McPhee S. Robinson A. J. Capucci L. 2002 Rabbit haemorrhagic disease: does a pre-existing RHD-like virus reduce the effectiveness of RHD as a biological control in Australia. Wildlife Research 29 673 682 doi:10.1071/WR00092

Dudzinski M. L. Mykytowycz R. 1961 The eye lens as an indicator of age in the wild rabbit in Australia. CSIRO Wildlife Research 6 156 159

Guillon P. Ruvoën-Clouet N. Le Moullac-Vaidye B. Marchandeau S. Le Pendu J. 2008 Association between expression of the H histo-blood group antigen, α1,2fucosyltransferases polymorphism of wild rabbits, and sensitivity to rabbit haemorrhagic disease. Glycobiology 19 21 28
doi:10.1093/glycob/cwn098

Henzell R. P. Cunningham R. B. Neave H. M. 2002 Factors affecting the survival of Australian wild rabbits exposed to rabbit haemorrhagic disease. Wildlife Research 29 523 542 doi:10.1071/WR00083

Kovaliski J. 1998 Monitoring the spread of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus as a new biological agent for the control of European rabbits in Australia. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 34 421 428

McCullagh P. , and Nelder J. A. (1983). ‘Generalised Linear Models.’ (Chapman and Hall Ltd: London.)

McPhee S. R. Berman D. Gonzales A. Butler K. L. Humphrey J. Muller J. Waddington J. N. Daniels P. Koch S. Marks C. A. 2002 Efficacy of a competitive enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA) for diagnosis of prevalence of immunity to rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) in populations of Australian wild rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus. Wildlife Research 29 635 647
doi:10.1071/WR00114

Moss S. R. Turner S. L. Trout R. C. White P. J. Hudson P. J. Desai A. Armesto M. Forrester N. L. Gould E. A. 2002 Molecular epidemiology of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus. Journal of General Virology 83 2461 2467

Mutze G. Cooke B. Alexander P. 1998 The initial impact of rabbit hemorrhagic disease on rabbit populations in South Australia. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 34 221 227


Mutze G. Bird P. Peacock D. Jennings S. Cooke B. D. 2002 Emerging epidemiological patterns in rabbit haemorrhagic disease and myxomatosis and their effects on rabbit populations in South Australia. Wildlife Research 29 577 590
doi:10.1071/WR00100

Mutze G. , Bird P. , Cooke B. , and Henzell R. (2008). Geographic and seasonal variation in the impact of rabbit haemorrhagic disease on rabbits and rabbit damage in Australia. In ‘Lagomorph Biology: Evolution, Ecology and Conservation’. (Eds P. C. Alves, N. Ferrand and K. Hackländer.) pp. 279–293. (Springer: Heidelberg, Germany.)

Nagesha H. S. McColl K. A. Collins B. J. Morrissy C. J. Wang L. F. Westbury H. A. 2000 The presence of cross-reactive antibodies to rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus in Australian wild rabbits prior to the escape of the virus from quarantine. Archives of Virology 145 749 757 doi:10.1007/s007050050668

Neave H. M. (1999). Rabbit Calicivirus Disease Program Report 1: overview of effects on Australian wild rabbits populations and implications for agriculture and biodiversity. A report of research conducted by participants of the Rabbit Calicivirus Disease Monitoring and Surveillance Program and Epidemiology Research Program. Prepared for the RCD Management Group, Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra.

O’Keefe J. S. Tempero J. E. Motha M. X. J. Hansen M. F. Atkinsona P. H. 1999 Serology of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus in wild rabbits before and after the release of the virus in New Zealand. Veterinary Microbiology 66 29 40 doi:10.1016/S0378-1135(98)00307-1

Robinson A. J. So P. T. M. Muller W. Cooke B. D. Capucci L. 2002 a Statistical models for the effect of age and maternal antibodies on the development of rabbit haemorrhagic disease in Australian wild rabbits. Wildlife Research 29 663 671 doi:10.1071/WR00119

Robinson A. J. Kirkland P. D. Forrester R. I. Capucci L. Cooke B. D. Philbey A. W. 2002 b Serological evidence for the presence of a calicivirus in wild rabbits, Oryctolagus cuniculus, before the introduction of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV): its potential influence on the specificity of a competitive ELISA for RHDV. Wildlife Research 29 655 662 doi:10.1071/WR00096

Rodak L. Smid B. Valicek L. Vesely T. Stepanek J. Hampl J. Jurak E. 1990 Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay of antibodies to rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus and determination of its major structural proteins. The Journal of General Virology 71 1075 1080 doi:10.1099/0022-1317-71-5-1075

Sahai H. , and Khurshid A. (1995). ‘Statistics in Epidemiology: Methods, Techniques and Applications.’ (CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL.)

Stern R. , Coe R. , Allan E. , and Dale I. Ed. (1994). ‘Good Statistical Practice for Natural Resources Research.’ (CABI Publishing: Wallingford, UK.)

Strive T. Wright J.D. Robinson A. J. 2009 Identification and partial characterisation of a new lagovirus in Australian wild rabbits. Virology 384 97 105 doi:10.1016/j.virol.2008.11.004



Export Citation