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RABBIT haemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) belongs to the family Caliciviridae, genus Lagovirus, along with RHDV, European brown hare syndrome virus (EBHSV) and other unassigned rabbit caliciviruses (RCVs). RHDV2 was first detected in European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in France in 2010 (Le Gall-Recule and others 2011). It spread rapidly throughout Europe (Dalton and others 2012, Abrantes and others 2013, Le Gall-Recule and others 2013, Baily and others 2014, Westcott and others 2014) and was detected in Australia in May 2015 (Hall and others 2015). In contrast to RHDV and EBHSV, which are strictly species-specific and restricted to Oryctolagus (rabbit) and Lepus (hare) genera, respectively (Lavazza and others 1996), RHDV2 causes a fatal hepatitis in European rabbits (Le Gall-Recule and others 2011), Sardinian Cape hares (Lepus capensis mediterraneus; Puggioni and others 2013), and in Italian hares (Lepus corsicanus) (Camarda and others 2014). Recently, RHDV2 has also been detected in European brown hares (Lepus europaeus) in Italy and Spain (Velarde and others, 2016).
Australia has only two species of lagomorphs, O cuniculus and L europaeus, both introduced as game species in the mid-nineteenth century. The distribution of hares is limited to the south-east of the continent, mostly sympatric with rabbits, while rabbits inhabit an area covering 70 per cent of …