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Product title :

The illegal introduction of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus in New Zealand

Author(s) : P. O’Hara

Summary :

In 1997, a group of pastoral farmers, frustrated by governmental and official responses to their problems of rabbit control, introduced and spread the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus in a clandestine operation that succeeded in distributing infection over a large area of the South Island before the disease was detected by government officials. The government concluded that eradication was not technically or economically feasible and the disease was accepted as being endemic. The episode highlighted the inadequate decision-making environment that existed at the time, now improved by the passage of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. It also highlights the importance of having a comprehensive biosecurity detection and response capability, including the ability to conduct prompt risk assessments, since preventing entry of biological agents may be difficult to achieve in the face of a determined adversary.

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