September 24, 2007 / 9:25 AM / 11 years ago

Rare white koala gets medical help in Australia

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A rare white koala has received medical treatment in an Australian animal hospital after suffering blindness caused by chlamydia.

Australian media said the koala, nicknamed Mick, was found by police and was taken to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, north of Sydney. The koala underwent surgery and was given antibiotics to restore his sight and health.

“He came in with a chlamydial conjunctivitis. He had very bad conjunctivitis in his eyes. He’s been surgically dealt with. He’s had antibiotics and he’s looking good,” Koala Hospital supervisor Cheyne Flanagan told local media.

She said Mick was not an albino, as he had a black nose and yellow eyes, but was a rare white koala.

She said the koala was returned to the wild at a secret location to protect him from poachers.

Chlamydia is a bacterium that infects a wide range of animals and is considered the main pathogen of koalas.

Infections occur in the urogenital tract and respiratory tract and can cause infertility, blindness and ultimately death. The visible symptoms are conjunctivitis and urinary tract infections causing incontinence, leading to a condition known as ‘dirty tail’ or ‘wet bottom’.

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