For koalas with chlamydia, relief is finally in sight

A serious bacterial infection called chlamydia is one of the leading causes of death for Australia’s koalas. But new research has identified an antibiotic that can manage the infection with few side effects, offering a ray of hope for these adorable, endangered marsupials.

Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis, affects humans as well as koalas; left untreated, it can cause infertility and permanent blindness in both species. Antibiotics that treat chlamydia in humans also work for koalas, but their success rate varies. And some types of antibiotics produce side effects that can be harmful to the iconic animals, such as disrupting the gut microbes that enable digestion of eucalyptus leaves, a dietary staple for koalas.

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