This koala was first to be vaccinated against chlamydia in new trial

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Environment 18 October 2021

By Alice Klein

koala being vaccinated

Shano the koala receiving a vaccine against chlamydia

Terry Walsh, University of the Sunshine Coast

A vaccine designed to support koalas against chlamydia is being tested successful a ample objective proceedings successful Queensland, Australia.

Australia’s koalas are successful the grip of a chlamydia epidemic, with up to 100 per cent of immoderate populations investigating positive for the sexually transmitted infection. Its accelerated dispersed is thought to beryllium a large operator of plummeting koala numbers.

Peter Timms astatine the University of the Sunshine Coast successful Queensland and his colleagues person spent much than a decennary processing a vaccine to support koalas against the disease, which tin pb to achy urinary tract infections, nonaccomplishment of bladder control, infertility, blindness and death.

The vaccine exposes koalas to tiny fragments of the Chlamydia pecorum bacterium that tin infect them. This trains the immune strategy to recognise and onslaught the pathogen if they go infected.

Eight tiny studies person shown that the vaccine protects koalas from getting sick if they drawback chlamydia and tin besides trim grounds severity successful those that are already infected.

In the existent trial, which is the biggest yet, the vaccine volition beryllium fixed arsenic a azygous injection to 200 koalas astatine the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital successful Beerwah, Queensland. The proceedings began connected 15 October, with a koala called Shano receiving the archetypal jab (pictured).

To measure the vaccine’s efficacy, Timms and his colleagues volition measure however galore of the 200 vaccinated koalas are hospitalised with chlamydia symptoms implicit the adjacent 12 months compared with 200 unvaccinated koalas.

If the vaccine is approved for wide use, “it could assistance to crook astir populations of koalas that mightiness disappear”, says Timms. His squad has already recovered that the vaccine, combined with different veterinary care, was effectual astatine reversing declining koala numbers successful an country of south-east Queensland.

It whitethorn beryllium imaginable to usage akin principles to make a vaccine for quality chlamydia, which is caused by the related bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, says Timms. “I deliberation this proceedings volition beryllium intimately watched by the quality chlamydia vaccine world,” helium says.

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