Enlisting flies to track the spread of RHDV

RFA has funded a novel project to help track the spread of rabbit viruses across Australia.

It is now accepted that flies are a vector for the transmission of RHDV, thanks in part to former research by Amy Ianella which was also supported by RFA. Research has also shown that flies could be used as a proxy to measure the spread of the virus within rabbit populations.

It is often difficult to source rabbit carcasses to detect the presence of RHDV, especially in remote locations, but flies may be relatively easily trapped and frozen for storage. Hence the interest in engaging flies to assist in virus tracking.

However, there is currently no means to efficiently sample flies for RHD viruses.

That is where the RFA ‘Monitoring RHDV in flies’ project comes in. Dr Adam Croxford, at the University of Adelaide, will use RFA and PIRSA funding to try and develop a method for optimum extraction of RHDV viral RNA from bulk samples of flies. If successful, the technique may then be applied to process fly samples collected from regional and remote areas. A better sampling option will make it much easier to monitor and understand the spread and interactions between various forms of RHDV, resulting in better rabbit control programs.

For more information on the project proposal, see ‘Monitoring RHDV in flies’.


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