Researchers in Australia have developed a vaccine for koalas to combat outbreaks of this type of sexually transmitted disease.
Koalas, hit hard by changing climatic conditions, wildfires and land reclamation, are under pressure from the ongoing outbreak of chlamydia, which makes marsupials infertile and further endangered species. ..
Senior Veterinarian and Ph.D. at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. Michael Pine, He said he witnessed a significant increase in the number of koalas admitted to his hospital during his career.
“I first started working in the hospital 20 years ago. It was unusual to see koalas. Maybe I only saw two or three a year,” Pine said. I did. “We have been fast-forwarding for 20 years and accepting up to 500 koalas a year. It is painful to see the problems our koalas are facing.”
Of the 500 koalas that enter each year60% are sick or dead with chlamydia, while many of the other 40% are sick with asymptomatic chlamydia.
Asymptomatic chlamydia is where koalas are in the early stages of developing a full-blown bacterial infection.
“Without precautions, koalas are expected to become extinct in large areas of eastern Australia. We hope that if this vaccine is effective, it will prevent koalas from getting sick in the first place.”
The vaccine trial aims to follow and monitor 30 koalas in the Elanora region of the Gold Coast for 3 years and recapture koalas every 6 months to confirm fertility and chlamydial immunity.
So far, vaccine trials have shown that treatment is effective, and the Cassidic koala under study was pregnant and negative for bacteria 12 months after the start of the study.
Pine said Cassidy’s pregnancy is promising because she lived in an area with a large number of cases of chlamydia in a local koala population.
“It’s encouraging that Cassidy is pregnant and not infected with chlamydia throughout the koala species, not just in research trials,” Pine told AAP.
In addition, of the 12 koalas that participated in the study, 6 recaptured koalas were healthy and tested negative for bacteria.
“It’s still very early and premature to say whether vaccines will be a long-term solution,” Pine said. “But Cassidy gives us hope.”
“We are not going to eliminate it all of a sudden, but vaccination is part of ongoing management to save koalas.” He said. “If we can vaccinate a certain percentage of koalas, our model shows that we should be able to undo the numbers, so they are off the list of vulnerable species. The next point on that list is at stake, so we don’t really want it. “
However, there are problems with conservation projects. Vaccination of koala populations is currently very expensive.
“Capture koalas from the wild, inoculate them, return them to the wild, track them, recapture them, and spend about $ 25,000 a year per koala to assess how well the vaccine is working. I’m watching it.” Pine said..
On average, 500 koalas brought to a veterinary clinic each year for chlamydia treatment usually cost about $ 7,000 (about $ 5,000) unless there are complications from antibiotic treatment. In that case, the cost will be much higher.
Pine said the price of the vaccine would go down after the trial, and that increasing the number of koalas that are effective and immune to chlamydia would significantly reduce the need for vaccination and treatment of chlamydia.
Professor Kenneth Bee Gray of the Queensland Institute of Technology has given 145 koalas a chlamydia vaccine while working in the hospital and hopes that the trial will increase the koala population.
“It’s great news that she’s pregnant with Joey, even though the vaccine protects Cassidy and lives in a population with a very high prevalence of chlamydia,” Bee Gray told AAP.
“I have a cautious optimism about this kind of future. Hopefully I can repeat this and see the koala population increase over time.”