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Research comment
Long-term monitoring of disease impact: rabbit haemorrhagic disease as a biological control case study
  1. Brian Cooke, MSc, PhD
  1. Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 2611 Australia
  1. E-mail: brian.cooke{at}

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In many countries throughout the world, resources available for disease surveillance are ever decreasing.1 This can lead to either a reduction in disease surveillance programmes, with an accompanying lack of preparedness, or a never-ending search for more efficient ways of monitoring disease and deciding where money can be best spent.

In Australia, where each state once had teams within veterinary, agricultural and environmental research institutions involved with surveillance and monitoring, it is now increasingly the case that only one or two individual scientists or veterinarians work in conjunction with inter-state and international colleagues to remain informed and piece together epidemiological events. A recent example of this is a study by Mutze and others,2 summarised on p 574 of this week’s issue of Vet Record, in relation to the emergence and spread of rabbit haemorrhagic disease 2 (RHDV2) through the population of introduced wild European rabbits in Australia.

Although RHDV1 had been released in Australia for the biological control of wild rabbits in 1995, it was only in 2015 that it was discovered by routine surveillance that RHDV2 had somehow entered Australia despite relatively strict quarantine procedures and was killing wild rabbits near Canberra in south-eastern Australia.3 The progress of the virus westward across Australia has since been …

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