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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
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Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Rabbit Virus Strikes New Zealand
27 August 1997 7:00 pm
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA--An outbreak of rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD) in New Zealand was confirmed yesterday by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture (MAF). Officials suspect the virus may have been intentionally released, despite MAF's decision last month not to use RCD to control rabbit populations. Police have set up roadblocks near Cromwell, on the South Island, and enforced a no-fly zone by the airport in attempts to stop the spread.
MAF had decided that not enough was known about the virus to introduce it (ScienceNOW, 10 July). But now officials say several dead rabbits on a farm near Cromwell, on the South Island, tested positive for the virus. Some four other properties also appear to have RCD-affected rabbits. Authorities have quarantined affected areas and are monitoring for new outbreaks, including searches for dead rabbits by helicopter. MAF is also considering shooting and poisoning animals within affected areas. MAF also has 20,000 doses of RCD vaccine available for pet rabbits.
New Zealand's Chief Veterinary Officer, Barry O'Neil, believes the New Zealand outbreak is no accident. "This is not the work of an insect vector," he says. "It's the wrong time of year; there's snow on the ground." He also notes that the outbreak occurred in rabbit-infested country, with rabbits across a wide area appearing to have been infected around the same time.
O'Neil says there were rumors among farmers that the virus was illegally introduced last week. South Island farmers have been embittered by the ministry's refusal to conduct a controlled release of the virus. New Zealand's Biosecurity Act stipulates heavy penalties for the deliberate introduction of an unwanted organism.