Last updated July 26, 2018 at 3:26 pm
Study methodology allows for testing in the wild.
There’s good news, bad news and good news from a recent scientific study of koalas in the South Gippsland area of Victoria.
For the koalas, the good news is that koala retrovirus subgroup A is less common than feared. The bad news is that nearly two-thirds of them have chlamydia, the other disease contributing to falling koala numbers.
For the researchers, the good news is the success of their methodology.
The Monash University study highlighted the value and potential of testing koala poo, which allowed a comprehensive survey to be taken in the wild.
“Non-invasive genetic sampling from scats is a powerful method for obtaining data regarding pathogen prevalence and diversity in wildlife,” the authors write in a paper published in Wildlife Research.
“The use of non-invasive methods for the study of pathogens may help fill research gaps in a way that would be difficult or expensive to achieve using traditional methods.”
The prevalence of infection, not the prevalence of disease, was estimated in the study. Whether individuals sampled were symptomatic or asymptomatic was not known or not recorded.
The authors say the level of disease impact is concerning and more research could help conservation efforts.
“Due to the conservation importance of the diverse remnant koala population in South Gippsland, monitoring of these infections in the region over time is vital,” they write.