Did you know that koalas could be key to fighting chlamydia?

Human beings are not the only ones who can suffer from sexually transmitted diseases .

Koalas in a tree

Koalas could be the key to studying this sexually transmitted infection. / Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: ¿Sabías que los koalas podrían ser claves para combatir la clamidia?

Even though the world seems to be almost entirely interested in the coronavirus pandemic, there are other diseases that need to be studied as well. Such is the case of those that refer to sexual contact, like chlamydia. According to what the Courier website mentions, there is an "increase in sexually transmitted infections" throughout the world, including chlamydia.

We had already seen this with a report from the BBC, which highlights that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) every day "there are about a million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases." Even the executive director of the WHO's Universal Health Coverage program had mentioned his concern about the "little progress that was made to stop the spread."

However, there is something that not all people know: some sexually transmitted diseases are not exclusive to humans, but can also be generated in animals. Well, in this sense there seem to be some advances… coming from the koalas. According to Infobae, in Australia a vaccine is being prepared to cure them of chlamydia, which may be key to fighting this disease in the more than 130 million affected people in the world. Let's see more details.

Koalas and the possible Chlamydia vaccine

First of all, we need to understand the disease a little better. According to what the specialized website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention mentions, it is a sexually transmitted disease that is "easy to cure." It can affect both men and women, but if left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the reproductive system of people.

As we have mentioned, it is a disease that is seen regularly among the younger population. The Infosalud medical website highlights that those under 25 years of age "suffer from two thirds of cases of chlamydia infection", according to what the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology mentions.

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In this sense, Dr. Alicia Comunión, coordinator of the Spanish Group for Research and Study of STDs and AIDS (GEIRS) of the AEDV, mentions that it is essential that "this public health problem is known" , since there is an increase of sexually transmitted infections that is dizzying, with consequences on health that will be seen in the coming years.

However, science seems to find some progress … within animals. The National Geographic website had warned in 2018 that scientists would have discovered how antibiotics can improve the conditions of Australian marsupials infected by this disease , where many of the populations have an infection rate of 100 percent.

Two years later, from the New York Times they report that chlamydia is a simple unicellular bacterium that acts like a virus, infecting all species. However, the microbiologist at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Peter Timms, noted that trials are underway in wild koalas, hoping that the formula will soon be ready to be shared with the world.

So, koalas could be the key to studying and eliminating this disease, as real conditions can be observed. In this species, the consequences are usually very serious, since it can cause severe inflammation, massive cysts and scars in the reproductive tract. This is why the El Español website mentions that, if they continue like this, they could become extinct as a species by 2050.

Knowing that, according to what is highlighted by the specialized website of Fundación Huiuda, 75% of women and 50% of men do not present symptoms of the infection (Avoidable by using a condom correctly), it may be a unique opportunity to generate a solution for this common disease in humans, but also in koalas, who will seek to save themselves as a species.

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