- The furry national icon is being treated for chlamydia at centres across country
- Koalas with chlamydia are given course of antibiotics but it’s effecting the joeys
- Joeys eat their mother’s faeces after treatment which may harm gut function
Just like humans, koala can be infected with the nasty chlamydia bug.
But while we can wipe the infection out with antibiotics, the much-loved Australian animal is facing a lot more trouble.
Researchers have discovered the medicine used to treat the infection can actually do more harm.
A recent study showed antibiotics can alter a koala’s gut microbes which allows them to eat eucalyptus leaves.
Australia’s furry national icon (stock image) continues to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease which could wipe out the population across the country
Koalas are being treated for chlamydia with antibiotics but the treatment can effect the stomach microbes of their joeys if the young koalas eat their mother’s pap – a type of faeces
University of California researcher Katherine Dahlhausen found the presence of the microbes were important in a koala surviving antibiotic treatment.
Before koalas start eating eucalyptus leaves, they eat their mother’s pap – a nutritious type of faeces – to help joeys gut microbes digest the leaves.
The antibiotics are consequently changing how koala digest eucalyptus leaves, their main food source.
Koalas can have a 100 per cent infection rate of chlamydia in some populations and while it isn’t fatal, it can shorten their lifespan and has the potential to wipe them out.
The new discovery may help figure out how to keep the protective microbe alive in the koala during its course of antibiotics.
Koalas at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital in Queensland and the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in New South Wales were studied during the course of antibiotic treatments.
The study also found possible treatments which might help restore healthy stomach bacteria.
Chlamydia infection can cause other issues including conjunctivitis and loss of sight.
The altered gut microbes mean it is difficult for koalas (stock image) to eat and digest eucalyptus leaves – their main food source