October 18, 2021
As koalas face a chlamydia epidemic, an Australian university research program intends to help find a cure for the furry creatures’ infections down under.
The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital began a yearlong experiment on Oct. 15, where it will use 400 koala bears to test a new vaccine against chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause painful infections and infertility. Professor Peter Timms, the leader of the trial, is conducting the trial in an effort to rescue the increasingly endangered species, according to Reuters.
“While this vaccination will directly benefit each of the animals, the trial will also have a focus on the protection provided by vaccination,” Timms told the outlet.
The research will take half of the 400 koalas and inject them with a single dose of the newly developed vaccine. Over the next 12 months, the 200 vaccinated koalas will be compared to the 200 unvaccinated koalas to see how many in each group are hospitalized with chlamydia symptoms, according to New Scientist .
Timms and his colleagues at the University of the Sunshine Coast have spent over a decade developing the vaccine for the koalas. If it is approved for widespread use, it could help keep the diminished koala population from disappearing. Additionally, it may be possible to use similar principles from the research to develop a vaccine for human chlamydia, the outlet reported.
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that affects both humans and animals. Side effects of the disease include urinary tract infections, loss of bladder control, infertility, blindness, and death.
Timms did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.