Lorikeet paralysis syndrome is a seasonal syndrome which has been occurring in eastern Australia for a number of years. In the summers of 2023-24 and 2019-20, there have been particularly high numbers of cases in northern NSW and southern Qld.
The syndrome primarily affects rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) but has also been reported in scaly-breasted lorikeets (T. 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.
WHA related resources and advice
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.