Chlamydia threat to untouched koala population

Jan 14, 2013
The koala infected with chlamydia.

(Phys.org)—An outbreak of koala chlamydia in the Southern Highlands also poses a threat to a completely unaffected colony in Campbelltown.

The danger has been identified by the University of Sydney's Wildlife Health and Conservation Centre in Camden which is currently treating a sick animal, from the Southern Highlands area. It is one of five it has treated for a in the past three years.

"The disease is infiltrating the population in the Southern Highlands which is concerning but we are even more worried that it may spread north and east into the Campbelltown population," said David Phalen, the director of the Centre, from the Faculty of Veterinary Science.

"The Campbelltown colony has an estimated 500 animals. They have been closely studied for 20 years and no evidence of has ever been found in this healthy, growing population."

The Campbelltown koalas are important because of the of their immune genes.

"My research, with colleagues Damien Higgins and PhD student Quintin Lau, from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, has highlighted the importance of the Campbelltown population because it contains animals with unique genetic diversity including unique immune genes.

"We don't yet know the importance of these genes, but because koalas overall have limited genetic diversity in their immune loss of animals to chlamydia should be prevented.

"The koala currently being treated has a bilateral with chlamydia and it has nearly blinded her. The painful infection attacks the inside of the eyelid and the cornea, changing the cornea from clear to cloudy."

This animal is from the population 20 kilometres west of Mittagong. Koalas that have had chlamydia that have been treated at the Wildlife Health and Conservation Centre have come from the Mittagong area and from as far south as Canyonleigh (30 km further south).

"There are two species of chlamydia that infect koalas. One, Chlamydia pecorum, usually attacks the bladder and the reproductive tract. Chlamydia pneumonia usually causes the eye disease. We have seen both infections in the Southern Highland population," said Phalen.

The sick are being diagnosed and treated using guidelines developed by researchers at the University of Sydney, which appear to cure the animals of infection.

Researchers Mark Krockenberger and Damien Higgins from the Faculty of developed this approach to treatment in 2010 and it is now being used widely across New South Wales.

The University of Sydney Wildlife Health and Conservation Centre treats animals drawn from Sydney's south down to the Victorian border, including client owned exotic pets (rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, reptiles, and fish) and wildlife including native birds, reptiles, and mammals.

Explore further: Telling the time of day by color

Related Stories

Vaccine for koala chlamydia close

Jul 17, 2008

Professors Peter Timms and Ken Beagley from Queensland University of Technology's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) said the vaccinated koalas, which are at Brisbane's Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, were mounting ...

Vaccine trials inject hope into koala's future

Jul 16, 2007

The first Australian trials of a vaccine developed by Queensland University of Technology that could save Australia's iconic koala from contracting chlamydia are planned to begin later this year.

Hanging in there: Koalas have low genetic diversity

Oct 23, 2012

A species relies on genetic diversity to survive and low diversity usually indicates that there has been inbreeding due to a decrease in population size. By looking at historic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from ...

Animals linked to human Chlamydia pneumoniae

Feb 22, 2010

Animals have been found to have infected humans sometime in the past with the common respiratory disease Chlamydia pneumoniae, according to Queensland University of Technology infectious disease expert Profes ...

Tracking koala disease: New findings from old DNA

Sep 26, 2012

(Phys.org)—DNA extracted from the skins of koalas displayed in European and North American museums shows that a retrovirus has been a problem for the animals for much longer than was thought, according ...

Recommended for you

Telling the time of day by color

18 hours ago

Research by scientists at The University of Manchester has revealed that the colour of light has a major impact on how the brain clock measures time of day and on how the animals' physiology and behavior adjust accordingly. ...

Aphrodisiac for fish and frogs discovered

23 hours ago

A supplement simply added to water has been shown to boost reproduction in nematodes (roundworms), molluscs, fish and frogs – and researchers believe it could work for humans too.

Evolution puts checks on virgin births

Apr 17, 2015

It seems unnatural that a species could survive without having sex. Yet over the ages, evolution has endowed females of certain species of amphibians, reptiles and fish with the ability to clone themselves, ...

Humans can't resist those puppy-dog eyes

Apr 16, 2015

When humans and their four-legged, furry best friends look into one another's eyes, there is biological evidence that their bond strengthens, researchers report.

Roundworm parasite targets canine eyes

Apr 16, 2015

(HealthDay)—A small number of dogs and cats across the United States have been infected by a roundworm parasite that targets the eye, according to a new report.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VendicarD
not rated yet Jan 14, 2013
Contrary to the article title, I would say that no Koala with Chlamydia has been "untouched".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.