Rabbit virus alert issued

THE warning has gone out to rabbit owners to keep a close eye on their pets as more calicivirus is set to be released in the Sydney area.

The director of the Avian, Reptile and Exotic Pet Hospital in Camden David Phalen said the virus was set to be re-released to target problem rabbit populations in north Sydney.

"Over time the effectiveness of the calicivirus has diminished so they're going to release more in the north Sydney area in March," Dr Phalen said.

"All pet rabbits should be vaccinated against the calicivirus. There is a small chance it could be transmitted by biting insects."

Dr Phalen said all rabbit enclosures should be covered in mosquito netting to stop insects biting the rabbits, and they should only be allowed outside during the day.

He said myxomatosis also became more active during the period through March into June and there was no vaccination against it.

He said myxomatosis was very difficult to cure once a rabbit had caught it.

Key signs included crusty skin around the nose, eyes and face.

He said he had only ever seen one rabbit treated for the disease that survived.