Currumbin Wildlife Hospital will now be vaccinating all koala patients against chlamydia prior to their release back into the wild, signifying a major milestone for the protection of koalas.
More than half of the almost 600 koalas treated at the hospital last year were sick and dying from chlamydia.
Dr Michael Pyne, Senior Vet of Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, has been treating koalas for over twenty years and believes prevention is better than cure.
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“It is a devastating disease and it’s crucial that we move into the prevention space now. The good news is that the technology is now available to make a significant change, it’s just a matter of enough fundraising momentum and support to save koalas,” Dr Pyne said.
QUT will be producing the vaccine to be used on the koala patients at the hospital before they are released back into the wild.
This major advancement in the protection of koalas has been made possible thanks to a number of people and organisations including Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate and The City of Gold Coast; Neumann Family; WildArk; Rotary and QUT Professor Ken Beagley, who led the development of the chlamydia vaccine for koalas.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the City was supporting the mission to save koalas from disease and had committed to a five-year plan to fund chlamydial research.
“Koalas are a global symbol of Australia and we must protect the species. I support Currumbin Wildlife Hospital’s mission to vaccinate all koala patients to allow for healthy populations in the wild, we can’t wait any longer,” said Mayor Tate.
The next phase of the project is a pilot study with a test population in Elanora.
The aim is to vaccinate 10 percent of the breeding population, as modelling shows this number would help reduce the overall instances of chlamydia and increase the breeding capacity.
The vaccinated koalas would then be tested again in 6-12 months to check if they are still clear of the disease.
If successful, this pilot program could eventually become a formula implemented across other parts of Australia.
The complete execution of this program is pending further funding.
The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital’s mission is to treat, rehabilitate and release wildlife and the hospital relies on the generosity of the community to continue its vital work. For more information and to donate, visit currumbinwildlifehospital.org.au