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How a new ‘retrovirus’ is making koalas vulnerable to chlamydia

Deborah Knight
Article image for How a new ‘retrovirus’ is making koalas vulnerable to chlamydia

Scientists from the University of Queensland have discovered koalas have more than just chlamydia, they also have a ‘retrovirus’ making them more susceptible to illnesses.

The widespread issue will create more problems for their population, with the virus increasing a koala’s risk of getting chlamydia by more than 200 per cent.

Scientists discovered that an immunosuppressive virus in humans has caused koalas to be susceptible.

University of QLD scientist Dr Michaela Blyton told Deborah Knight the virus makes it harder for them to fight off other diseases.

“It can also cause cancer in the koala because it inserts itself into the koala’s DNA,” she said.

“We think that the virus first infected koalas in Northern Queensland and has bred over the generations south.”

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Image: Getty

 

Deborah Knight
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