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Hanger J.,Endeavour Veterinary Ecology | Hanger J.,Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital | Loader J.,Endeavour Veterinary Ecology | Loader J.,Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital | And 4 more authors.
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2013

The gold standard method for detecting chlamydial infection in domestic and wild animals is PCR, but the technique is not suited to testing animals in the field when a rapid diagnosis is frequently required. The objective of this study was to compare the results of a commercially available enzyme immunoassay test for Chlamydia against a quantitative Chlamydia pecorum-specific PCR performed on swabs collected from the conjunctival sac, nasal cavity and urogenital sinuses of naturally infected koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus).The level of agreement for positive results between the two assays was low (43.2%). The immunoassay detection cut-off was determined as approximately 400 C. pecorum copies, indicating that the test was sufficiently sensitive to be used for the rapid diagnosis of active chlamydial infections. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Waugh C.,University of The Sunshine Coast | Khan S.A.,Queensland University of Technology | Carver S.,University of Tasmania | Hanger J.,Endeavour Veterinary Ecology | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Diseases associated with Chlamydia pecorum infection are a major cause of decline in koala populations in Australia. While koalas in care can generally be treated, a vaccine is considered the only option to effectively reduce the threat of infection and disease at the population level. In the current study, we vaccinated 30 free-ranging koalas with a prototype Chlamydia pecorum vaccine consisting of a recombinant chlamydial MOMP adjuvanted with an immune stimulating complex. An additional cohort of 30 animals did not receive any vaccine and acted as comparison controls. Animals accepted into this study were either uninfected (Chlamydia PCR negative) at time of initial vaccination, or infected (C. pecorum positive) at either urogenital (UGT) and/or ocular sites (Oc), but with no clinical signs of chlamydial disease. All koalas were vaccinated/sampled and then re-released into their natural habitat before re-capturing and re-sampling at 6 and 12 months. All vaccinated koalas produced a strong immune response to the vaccine, as indicated by high titres of specific plasma antibodies. The incidence of new infections in vaccinated koalas over the 12-month period post-vaccination was slightly less than koalas in the control group, however, this was not statistically significant. Importantly though, the vaccine was able to significantly reduce the infectious load in animals that were Chlamydia positive at the time of vaccination. This effect was evident at both the Oc and UGT sites and was stronger at 6 months than at 12 months post-vaccination. Finally, the vaccine was also able to reduce the number of animals that progressed to disease during the 12-month period. While the sample sizes were small (statistically speaking), results were nonetheless striking. This study highlights the potential for successful development of a Chlamydia vaccine for koalas in a wild setting. Copyright © 2016 Waugh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Adams-Hosking C.,University of Queensland | Mcbride M.F.,University of Melbourne | Mcbride M.F.,University of Helsinki | Baxter G.,University of Queensland | And 16 more authors.
Diversity and Distributions | Year: 2016

Aim: The koala is a widely distributed Australian marsupial with regional populations that are in rapid decline, are stable or have increased in size. This study examined whether it is possible to use expert elicitation to estimate abundance and trends of populations of this species. Diverse opinions exist about estimates of abundance and, consequently, the status of populations. Location: Eastern and south-eastern Australia Methods: Using a structured, four-step question format, a panel of 15 experts estimated population sizes of koalas and changes in those sizes for bioregions within four states. They provided their lowest plausible estimate, highest plausible estimate, best estimate and their degree of confidence that the true values were contained within these upper and lower estimates. We derived estimates of the mean population size of koalas and associated uncertainties for each bioregion and state. Results: On the basis of estimates of mean population sizes for each bioregion and state, we estimated that the total number of koalas for Australia is 329,000 (range 144,000-605,000) with an estimated average decline of 24% over the past three generations and the next three generations. Estimated percentage of loss in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia was 53%, 26%, 14% and 3%, respectively. Main conclusions: It was not necessary to achieve high levels of certainty or consensus among experts before making informed estimates. A quantitative, scientific method for deriving estimates of koala populations and trends was possible, in the absence of empirical data on abundances. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Gillett A.K.,Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital | Gillett A.K.,University of Queensland | Flint M.,University of Florida | Hulse L.,University of Queensland | And 2 more authors.
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2015

This study presents the first set of comprehensive reference intervals (RIs) for plasma biochemistry and haematology for three species of sea snakes common to the Indo-Pacific waters of Australia. In total 98 snakes, composed of Hydrophis curtus (. n . = 60), H.. elegans (. n = 27) and H.. peronii (. n = 11), were captured, clinically examined and had venous blood samples collected.All snakes were deemed healthy and in good to excellent body condition with snout to vent lengths of 40.7-73.9 cm (. H.. curtus), 68.9-131.4 cm (. H.. elegans) and 55.0-83.0 cm (. H.. peronii), respectively. Lymphocyte numbers, alkaline phosphatase, alanine aminotransferase, creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase levels were species-dependent. All other parameters are presented as a single range for the three species. Gender ratio was evenly distributed for H.. curtus and H.. elegans, but 8/11 (73%) of H.. peronii were males. No significant differences were detected between males and females for any of the measured blood parameters. Lymph contamination was considered and accounted for. Although only three species of sea snakes are represented in this study, the RIs generated may be useful in the clinical assessment of other sea snake species. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


Behrendorff L.,University of Queensland | Leung L.K.-P.,University of Queensland | McKinnon A.,Threatened Species Unit | Hanger J.,Endeavour Veterinary Ecology | And 4 more authors.
Scientific Reports | Year: 2016

Top-predators play stabilising roles in island food webs, including Fraser Island, Australia. Subsidising generalist predators with human-sourced food could disrupt this balance, but has been proposed to improve the overall health of the island' s dingo (Canis lupus dingo) population, which is allegedly 'starving' or in 'poor condition'. We assess this hypothesis by describing the diet and health of dingoes on Fraser Island from datasets collected between 2001 and 2015. Medium-sized mammals (such as bandicoots) and fish were the most common food items detected in dingo scat records. Stomach contents records revealed additional information on diet, such as the occurrence of human-sourced foods. Trail camera records highlighted dingo utilisation of stranded marine fauna, particularly turtles and whales. Mean adult body weights were higher than the national average, body condition scores and abundant-excessive fat reserves indicated a generally ideal-heavy physical condition, and parasite loads were low and comparable to other dingo populations. These data do not support hypotheses that Fraser Island dingoes have restricted diets or are in poor physical condition. Rather, they indicate that dingoes on Fraser Island are capable of exploiting a diverse array of food sources which contributes to the vast majority of dingoes being of good-excellent physical condition.

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