Ongoing Incidents

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

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. This summer there has 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.
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, it has been reported in other areas of the world and most recently in Timor Leste. 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 alert (not alarmed) and if you see signs of disease in feral pigs (or domestic pigs) phone the Emergency Animal Disease 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 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.

African Swine Fever and feral pigs - Australian and International resources and links 

Grey-headed and black flying-foxes

September 2019: There have been reports of a significant number of sick and dead grey-headed and black flying-foxes on the north coast of NSW and south-east to central Queensland.

Flying-foxes are being found emaciated, and both juveniles and adults are affected. There have also been reports of unusual behaviour such as flying-foxes roosting alone during the day, and flying and foraging in unusual areas. The cause is believed to be a starvation event due to a food shortage associated with ongoing drought conditions. Carer groups are working very hard to rescue and rehabilitate sick flying-foxes.

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, contact a licensed wildlife care organisation or local veterinarian. In the event of a bite, scratch or other significant contact with a bat, seek medical attention urgently. Contact your local Public Health agency for further advice. Pet owners in affected areas should take steps to prevent direct contact between their pet and a bat e.g. keeping the pet confined at night. If your pet has interacted with a bat, seek prompt assistance from your local veterinary practitioner.

Neurological syndrome in brushtail possums, Tasmania

  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

An outbreak of severe, proliferative skin disease has been detected in free-living Eastern water dragons (Intellagama lesueurii) in Southeast Queensland, Australia. The disease has been confirmed in Eastern water dragon populations at multiple locations across Brisbane City. 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 animals.

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.

The following notification outlines what to be on the look for, what information to collect and who to contact if you come across a suspect case. Further information is also available via the WHA fact sheet: Yellow Fungus and Related Diseases in Australian Reptiles. Note: This notification has been developed by the researchers investigating outbreak, in consultation with relevant government agencies, and has been circulated directly to veterinary hospitals, wildlife care groups and local councils in SE Qld and nationally to WHA surveillance partners.

How you can help: If you come across any suspect cases, we encourage you to contact the researchers investigating this event and cc’ your State/Territory WHA Coordinator and Environment Representative, especially if the case(s) is outside SE Queensland.

Rotavirus mortalities of pigeons

Since mid-2016, high levels of mortalities in kept pigeons (racing and fancy) have occurred in lofts across some states of Australia (Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia). Clinical signs in affected birds have included depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, regurgitation and hunched postures. Birds that appeared sick usually died within 12 to 24 hours. A rotavirus (a member of the reoviridae family) was confirmed.

Feral pigeons are likely to be susceptible to the virus. In Western Australia, feral pigeon (rock pigeon; Columba livia) mortalities occurred in a location close to an affected loft, with gross and histological findings consistent with the disease in the racing and fancy pigeons. In addition, rotavirus has been detected in faecal samples of several feral and native wild bird species overseas. 

For further information developed in consultation with relevant State, Territory, Commonwealth Government agencies and Wildlife Health Australia, please see the summary document below.

Information on Rotavirus mortalities of pigeons Feb 2017 

Please be alert to any signs of disease that are unusual or clusters of deaths in wild birds (feral or native); please report incidents to your state or territory WHA Coordinator.

For more information see
information provided by each state or territory biosecurity authority:
McCowan C et al (2018) A novel group A rotavirus associated with acute illness and hepatic necrosis in pigeons (Columba livia), in Australia. PLoS ONE 13(9): e0203853.

Mortality event in flying-foxes 2016-17


Spring/Summer 2016-17: From September 2016, there were reports of increased numbers of sick and orphaned flying-foxes, as well as adult mortalities, at camps distributed along the eastern seaboard of Australia. Primarily, there was evidence of abandonment and starvation in flying-fox pups. There were also reports of unusual behaviour in adult flying-foxes such as day roosting and flying and foraging in unusual areas. Although total numbers are not known, reports indicate many hundreds of animals affected.

Carer groups worked very hard to rescue and rehabilitate abandoned, sick and injured flying-foxes. 

A group was convened to monitor and explore the event, including representatives from the state government agriculture and environment agencies in affected jurisdictions, Wildlife Health Australia, the Australian Registry of Wildlife Health and the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment. Possible causes were considered, such as an acute food shortage and/or disease, but unfortunately no common underlying cause of the events could be found.

A report on the event is available here (V2 - updated November 2017).

If you have further information on this type of event, please contact 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, contact a licensed wildlife care organisation or local veterinarian.




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:

Zika virus


Zika virus is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes. It first appeared in 1947 in Africa, originating from non human primates. In humans it has caused sporadic disease in tropical areas inhabited by the mosquito vector (Aedes aegypti). In recent times, outbreaks of the disease have been seen in the Pacific and now in Brazil and other countries of South America. In humans, most infections are asymptomatic but around 20% of people may develop mild and short lived clinical signs. Recently Zika virus infection in humans has been linked to auto-immune disease and microcephaly in babies. Only a handful of imported cases have been reported in humans in Australia, although the vector mosquito occurs in parts of Queensland. There is no evidence that Australian wildlife are involved in the epidemiology of Zika virus.

For more information see the following links:

Australian bat lyssavirus in juvenile bats


One adult and three juvenile grey-headed flying foxes rescued from a NSW Central Coast flying fox roost on 9 November 2015 have tested positive for Australian bat lyssavirus. A NSW CVO Bulletin to Wildlife Carers has been issued.

Additional information for NSW can be found at the end of the CVO Bulletin. Links to ABLV information in other jurisdictions are available on the WHA Resources (Expand 'Diseases and disease agents’ in the Categories list, select 'Australian Bat Lyssavirus’ and look for ‘Australian Bat Lyssavirus Resources’ for your state/territory).

Paramyxovirus in pigeons



Pigeon paramyxovirus (Avian Paramyxovirus 1) has been detected in loft pigeons and free-ranging feral pigeons in Victoria and NSW and domestic pigeons in Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia. There are currently no reported unusual disease incidents in Australian commercial or backyard poultry flocks associated with this disease. Please be alert to any signs of disease that are unusual or clusters of deaths in wild birds; please report incidents to your state or territory WHA Coordinator.


Related 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:


Hendra virus


Information on Hendra virus incidents, on how to minimise the risk of horses becoming infected with Hendra virus and ongoing research into this virus are available from the following websites:

In addition to information provided by each state or territory biosecurity authority: