The regional council is urging Otago residents to vaccinate pet rabbits after concerns a new virus will spread to the region.

The Otago Regional Council recently issued statements regarding RHDV2, a new strain of the rabbit calicivirus, which killed wild rabbits in Marlborough and the Bay of Plenty.

It urged rabbit owners in Otago to go to their nearest veterinary clinics and vaccinate against the virus.

Dunedin vet Dr Sally Willox, of Animates Vetcare Dunedin, said there was a concern the virus was in the region, but had not yet been detected.


It was also pushing for owners to vaccinate their rabbits.

The Ministry for Primary Industries recently imported the new vaccine, which covered the new and old strain of calicivirus, but stock was limited.

"It hasn't been used in New Zealand before, so we're not 100%, but it's the best we've got.

"Anyone who is concerned should vaccinate their rabbits. It's the best way to protect them.''

Other mitigation methods included controlling insects such as flies, which were the main vector for the virus, washing vegetables before feeding the rabbits and cleaning their hutches.