Fact: Most koala bears have chlamydia.
If you think dodgy clubs in Leeds are a dangerous place to sleep around, you’d be right. But they’re nothing compared to Australia, which takes the coveted crown for having the most chlamydia around thanks to its resident koala bears.
In some areas in Eastern Australia up to 90% of koala bears are infected with chalmydia. Like in humans, chlamydia in koalas can cause blindness and infertility, and since the disease is sexually transmitted and those pesky koalas absolutely refuse to use condoms, the spread of this disease is completely out of control.
The number of koala bears in Australia has plummeted, with an 80% drop in numbers over the last 10 years, and deaths related to chlamydia infections are thought to be a major cause. The disease can be treated with antibiotics and a koala-specific vaccine is in development, but getting treatment to wild animals is notoriously difficult and efforts to stem the spread of this disease have – so far – had limited success.
The strain of chalmydia that infects koala bears is slightly different than the one than infects humans, but if the potential extinction of a species through sexually transmitted infections doesn’t wake you up to the importance of safe sex, nothing will.
‘Another one of Mr Shaunak’s Little Bites of Science’
Image under Creative Commons license, taken from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koala_(Phascolarctos_cinereus),_S%C3%ADdney,_Australia18.JPG