A new rabbit-killing virus

I have said it before: politics, science and money make a dangerous combination. It’s hard to believe, but the Australian government allows for a new virus to be released, which is supposed to kill rabbits. They have tried it before with myxomatosis and it didn’t work. But it did make sure that nobody wants to eat rabbits anymore, which just creates another problem. You would think that scientists learn from their mistakes, but that’s not true. On the contrary. It seems like they always want to make their own blunders an cause their own disasters.

So what is this new virus exactly? The calicivirus is assumed to cause a haemorrhagic disease, which should kill the rabbits. Just like Ebola is said to do to humans. If you assume that viruses cause disease, then this sounds like a very, very dangerous way to go. 7366186-1x1-340x340After all many animal viruses have already been accused of causing disease in humans and rabbits are everywhere. But don’t worry, viruses don’t cause disease. Not in humans and not in rabbits. I do wonder what this haemorrhagic disease can be. In humans it’s usually simply scurvy, a disease that most western doctors can’t even diagnose anymore. Rabbits make their own vitamin C, but that’s only as long as they are healthy enough to do so. Lab rabbits possibly aren’t that healthy and with a bit of encouragement probably can also develop vitamin C deficiency diseases. But I’m not a rabbit expert, so this is a guess.

“an amount that is said to treat 150 hectares of rabbit-prone land.” There the smokescreen language starts. It is said, but obviously nobody knows. “Myxomatosis was released in the 1950s and killed an estimated 99 per cent of the rabbits Australia wide” And I estimate that this number is based on politics and not on facts. With so many rabbits, how on earth can you know the real number? If you can kill 99%, then why wasn’t it 100% or 50%? Here we see the usual wishful thinking in combination with politics. The result is only good for the fiction books.

“was very successful at killing rabbits in the hotter, drier parts of the country.” How was this measured? How many dead rabbits were counted? If such a disease is so effective in killing rabbits, then the bodies should be everywhere. If you can show a few hundred dead rabbits collected in a certain area, then you can make an estimate how effective a strategy is. But in absence of such exact numbers I guess they made an estimate of the live rabbits they counted. And that number can be influenced by many different factors.

I also wonder how they think to spread this virus and how they have proven that this works. Viruses have the funny habit that they do not spread, no matter what we have alwasy been taught. And in contrast with what most people believe, no researchers has ever seen a virus. Not a live virus and not dead virus. Viruses are way too small to be seen under a normal microscope and an electron microscope shoots them into a thousand pieces. All the researchers can do is take all the pieces of DNA they find, puzzle them together till they have something that looks like a strand of DNA. They call that a virus and then blame this virus for whatever disease they are researching. 7366264-3x2-700x467So what they mean with different strands of a virus is a mystery to me. I suppose it means something like a different result from the same puzzle. Or maybe they take different pieces of DNA to put together. The rest is fantasy again. How would a strand of DNA multiply? And how would it travel from one place to another? I have no idea what these people have in mind for spreading a virus that doesn’t spread.

So what about the number of rabbits? Will it go down? Yes, it will for a while. The reason is mentioned in the article. At the same time they are going to release the virus they will also apply warren ripping a lot more thoroughly. That always happens in such situations. When everyone is looking you do a better job. On top of that the expectations are that there will be a lot fewer rabbits, so the counting will also be influenced. But unless they can show many thousands of rabbits that bled to dead you better don’t believe anything. After a few years the warren ripping will go back to where it is now and so will the numbers of rabbits. And then a new virus will be invented and the whole lot starts over again.

“it will probably only kill about 40 per cent” 40% of rabbits is about as good as nothing. And there is a good excuse for when nothing happens. It’s the fault of the rabbits, not of the researchers who produce fiction. But this way they can keep themselves in the job.

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