Ongoing Incidents

For information on or to report a disease incidents involving wildlife in your state or territory contact your WHA Coordinator
   

Frog Mortality Event Notification

  August 2021: Over the last few weeks there have been a large number of reports of sick and dead frogs across NSW, Queensland and eastern Victoria. An article was published about this event in The Conversation (29 July 2021).

The Australian Registry of Wildlife Health, the Australian Museum, Wildlife Health Australia and state government environment and biosecurity agencies are working together to investigate the event and determine the likely cause.
 
To better understand how widespread this event is, and the level of impact on frog populations, please send any reports of sick or dead frogs (and if possible, photos) to the national citizen science project FrogID, or email calls@frogid.net.auThis email address is being monitored and any reports of sick frogs are being directed to licensed wildlife rehabilitation organisation or veterinarians, in line with state government environment and biosecurity agency advice.

Freshwater Turtle Disease Notification

  March 2021: A virus, previously identified as the cause of death of a large proportion of critically endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle (Wollumbinia georgesi; 2015 BRST event) population in 2015, has been detected in a collection of captive Australian freshwater turtles in Queensland. 

The affected captive freshwater turtles showed signs of disease and death similar to those seen in the 2015 BRST event. A disease investigation was suggested by the owner and undertaken in collaboration with a local Private Veterinary Practitioner (PVP) and reptile disease specialists. The investigation identified the Bellinger River Virus and another novel nidovirus in sick captive freshwater turtles. The viruses were also detected in a number of apparently healthy animals. The owner and investigators are working in collaboration with government authorities in response to this concerning detection, including investigation into the possible source of the virus. The multi-agency response team is continuing to investigate this event and includes biosecurity and environment government agencies in New South Wales and Queensland.
 
Please follow the link to find out how you can help, what to be on the lookout for, what information to collect and who to contact if you come across a suspect case.

Flying-fox event in northern NSW & South East Qld

  Dec 2020/Jan 2021: Sick flying-foxes have been reported since mid-December in a range of locations in northern NSW and South East Qld. Clinical signs include paralysis and paresis (limb weakness), protruding tongues, inability to swallow, and difficulty breathing. A small number of cases with similar signs were reported earlier in 2020 but no cause was identified. Carers, veterinarians and government agencies are working to investigate the cause of this event. Further information: Paralysis event in flying foxes in Queensland and New South Wales
 
Wildlife Health Australia is collecting information to better understand the geographic range, species and age of animals affected, and range of clinical signs. If you have information on this event, please fill out the Flying-fox Event Report Form and return it to WHA. If you are working with others, it would be helpful if you could fill out the form together to avoid duplication of information.
 
Please note that WHA is NOT able to receive samples. If you are interested in submitting samples for diagnostic investigation, please contact a veterinarian or the WHA Coordinator in your state or territory.
 
Members of the public should not handle flying-foxes due to the risk of exposure to diseases such as Australian bat lyssavirus. If you find a sick, injured or abandoned flying-fox:
 
  • In NSW: call a licensed wildlife rehabilitation group or local veterinarian. See the NSW DPIE website for further advice and to find your local rehabilitation group.
  • In Queensland: call the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625). See the Qld DES website for further advice.

 
If you see any unusual signs of disease or deaths in wildlife you can report it to:


Download: Flying-fox Event Report Form

Canine ehrlichiosis in Australia

  Australia was previously believed to be free of Ehrlichia canis. During 2020, the organism was detected in Australian dogs for the first time in northern Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The disease (also known as canine monocytic ehrlichiosis) can cause serious illness and death in dogs, dingoes and other canids (e.g. foxes). It is transmitted through tick bites, especially the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) which are generally associated with tropical and subtropical environments. 

For further information, please see:
 

Infection with E. canis (ehrlichiosis) is a notifiable disease in Australia. If you suspect ehrlichiosis in dogs in Australia, please contact your local vet or the national Emergency Animal Disease Watch hotline on 1800 675 888.

Lorikeet paralysis syndrome NSW & Qld

 
Lorikeet paralysis syndrome is a seasonal syndrome which has been occurring in eastern Australia for a number of years. Last summer (2019-2020), there was been a particularly high number of cases in northern NSW and southern Queensland.
 
The syndrome primarily affects rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) but has also been reported in scaly-breasted lorikeets (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus). Affected birds are unable to fly, with varying degrees of paralysis of the hindlimbs. In more severe cases the paralysis may affect the whole body and the bird may be unable to blink or swallow, and have a significant change to the voice. Less severely affected birds may recover with supportive treatment.
 
Wildlife disease experts have been investigating this syndrome and a wide range of tests have been done. The current investigation has found no evidence of an infectious disease as the cause of this syndrome. The possibility of an environmental or plant toxin is being investigated.
 
The University of Sydney requires citizen scientists within the designated study site to report observations on iNaturalist of what plant species/food sources the rainbow lorikeets were observed feeding on. Find out more HERE.
 
Related recently published publication: Lacasse et al al (2021). Investigation into clinicopathological and pathological findings, prognosis, and aetiology of lorikeet paralysis syndrome in rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus). Australian Veterinary Journal.
 
Members of the public who see a sick lorikeet should:
  • In NSW: call a licensed wildlife rehabilitation group or local veterinarian. See the NSW DPIE website for further advice.
  • In Queensland: call the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625). See the Qld DES website for further advice.

African Swine fever and Feral Pigs

 
Members of the wildlife community should be alert to signs of disease in Australian feral pigs. 

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious viral disease of feral (wild) and domestic pigs. It has established itself in Asia and parts of Europe and continues to spread. ASF has no vaccine and kills about 80 per cent of the pigs it infects. Due to its high economic impact and lack of a commercially available vaccine, ASF is considered one of the most important diseases of pigs worldwide and is listed as a disease of international significance by the OIE World Organisation for Animal Health.

ASF has never occurred in Australia. However, its changing distribution means that it is a significant biosecurity threat to Australia. An outbreak would have significant impacts on pig production and health. It would also damage Australia’s trade and the economy.

Signs that are seen in infected pigs can be variable but include red, blotchy or black skin lesions; nose and eye discharge; coughing or difficulty breathing; incoordination; convulsions; abortions. Sudden death can also occur with no prior signs of disease.

We are requesting that all members of the wildlife community be aware of the signs of ASF in feral pigs (or domestic pigs) and if seen, to phone the Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 immediately. This will put you in touch with your state or territory animal health authority. Suspect cases of ASF must be reported to animal health authorities.

Signs that are seen in infected pigs can be variable but include red, blotchy or black skin lesions; nose and eye discharge; coughing or difficulty breathing; incoordination; convulsions; abortions. Sudden death can also occur with no prior signs of disease.

ASF spreads easily by direct contact between pigs or indirectly by contaminated items including feed, feed ingredients, equipment, vehicles, clothing and footwear. It can also be spread through meat from infected animals, and vectors (such as some ticks). If you locate a sick, dead or suspect animal call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline immediately and they will advise on appropriate hygiene protocols.

Find out more about Keeping African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease out of Australia  on the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website, including what signs to look out for in pigs, biosecurity requirements for incoming passengers and for people who are purchasing goods online from overseas as well as a summary of action by biosecurity authorities. You can also visit your relevant State or Territory Department of Agriculture websites for information.

The lates information on global ASF situation can be accessed via the World Orgnsiation for Animal Health's website.  African Swine Fever and feral pigs - Australian and International resources and links. The lates information on global ASF situation can be accessed via the World Orgnsiation for Animal Health's website. 
 

Neurological syndrome in brushtail possums, Tasmania

  Ongoing: Brushtail possums presenting with neurological signs are being investigated in Tasmania. Signs in affected possums include docility, out during daylight, difficulty climbing, gait abnormalities, tremors, head tilt, circling, uncoordinated movement, and signs of visual impairment or blindness. These signs are consistent with “wobbly possum disease”, which was first discovered in brushtail possums in New Zealand, where a nidovirus has been identified as the causative agent. Recent testing of the Tasmanian cases has identified a nidovirus that is very similar to the NZ virus. Investigations into this event are continuing.

For more information (including biosecurity advice for Tasmanian rehabilitators) see the DPIPWE website, and the WHA Fact Sheet.

Skin disease in free-living Eastern water dragons in Southeast Queensland

 
A severe, proliferative skin disease, caused by a fungus, has been detected in free-living reptiles in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.  The disease has been confirmed in focal outbreaks, for example Eastern water dragon populations in Brisbane City parklands. In each case so far, the diagnosis has been based on skin changes and confirmed by PCR and culture. The causative organism identified in each case belongs to the genus Nannizziopsis. Until recently, reports of infection with Nannizziopsis have been restricted to captive reptiles. Further information is available via the WHA fact sheet: Yellow Fungus and Related Diseases in Australian Reptiles.

Nannizziopsis is known to cause fatal disease in a wide range of reptiles. The infection is contagious through physical contact and through the environment, therefore best practice biosecurity measures are recommended.

How you can help: If you come across any suspect cases, we encourage you to contact your State/Territory WHA Coordinator and Environment Representative.

1st December 2020 University of the Sunshine Coast Media Release

Peterson NR et al (2020). Cross-continental emergence of Nannizziopsis barbatae disease may threaten wild Australian lizards. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-12.

Tularaemia

 

   

Tularaemia is an infection caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis. It is commonly found in a range of wildlife species across the northern hemisphere but, until recently, was believed to be absent from Australian wildlife.

Different subspecies of tularaemia vary in their virulence. A single case of Francisella tularensis novicida was reported in a human in the Northern Territory in 2003. In 2011, two separate cases of F. t. holarctica biovar japonica were diagnosed in two women who had a history which included being scratched and/ or bitten by common ringtail possums in western Tasmania. Testing of a small number of possums from western Tasmania and other areas did not reveal evidence of tularaemia.

In September 2016, tularaemia was detected for the first time in Australian animals, following Next Generation molecular analysis of archived samples, collected from two separate clusters of common ringtail possum deaths that had occurred in NSW in 2002 and 2003. Findings of F. t. holarctica were confirmed by PCR and were found to be genomically very similar to that found in the 2011 Australian human cases.

For more information see the following links:


Kangaroo mortality events

 


Mass mortality and morbidity events involving kangaroos occur across a number of states and territories, in some cases with a seasonal occurrence. Investigation may reveal a primary cause, although these events are often multifactoral in nature. Examples include: