Koala Health Hub established at Sydney Veterinary School

24 March 2014

Koalas throughout NSW and potentially nationwide will benefit from the establishment of the Koala Health Hub at the Sydney Veterinary School.

University of Sydney Veterinary School
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The funding of $400,000 for the Hub is money contributed by members of the public in the 1980s, including bags of five-cent coins from thousands of school children.
“The Koala Health Hub is dedicated to supporting koala hospitals, veterinarians and researchers working to improve koala health and welfare, including the 950 sick or injured koalas hospitalized in NSW each year,” said hub director Dr Damien Higgins from the Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science.
The Koala Infectious Diseases Research Group and the Wildlife Health and Conservation Clinic in the Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science have more than 40 years of combined expertise in koala health and disease.
Their investigations into the diagnosis and treatment of infectious koala diseases that can cause respiratory and neurological disease, blindness, infertility and death, as well as management of burns and trauma, have created new knowledge and diagnostic methods.
“The Koala Health Hub brings the results of this research to the organizations and hospitals that care for koalas, supporting them with better access to quality diagnostic tests and clinical expertise,” said Dr Higgins.
The funding will also directly support continuing specialist clinical care for koalas from the Sydney region at the University of Sydney’s Wildlife, Avian, Reptile and Exotic Pets Hospital at Camden.
Koala carers and veterinarians devote considerable time, effort and expense to koala care, but there are many challenges. Among these are that koalas respond in unusual ways to drugs used to treat some diseases in other species including not absorbing drugs in the same way.
Also, most tests used to diagnose diseases are not available to many carers due to their cost, or are difficult to apply to koalas because normal ranges for results may not be known.
The Koala Health Hub is also supported by the faculty’s Veterinary Pathology Diagnostic Service, who are donating pathology expertise, and record-keeping systems to ensure that information from testing can be retrieved and used to keep an eye on changes in disease patterns over time, or develop a better idea of what is a “normal” test result.
The funds for the Koala Health Hub come from dormant funds originally collected by the Koala Park Sanctuary in West Pennant Hills. In the 1980s the sanctuary appealed to the general public to contribute funds for a new koala hospital and research centre, and local residents, including school children, were among those to respond generously.
“We are delighted these funds can now be used to advance the care of our vulnerable koala populations. We also hope the links between the koala care, research and veterinary communities that will be created by the Koala Health Hub will assist the great work of other koala research and wildlife disease surveillance groups at the University of Sydney and nationwide,” said Dr Higgins.

About the Sydney Veterinary School

The Faculty of Veterinary Science has a strong commitment to provide students with an exceptional learning environment. This ensures the very best start to a fulfilling, diverse and successful veterinary career.
Sydney Veterinary School’s aim is to ensure students are able to view issues from a population health framework, with a strong animal welfare consciousness, and provide influence and expertise at a local, national and global level.
Sydney Veterinary School has planned to offer a 4-year, graduate-entry Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) for the March 2015 intake.  Dr Peter White of the Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science has stated that while options for entry requirements (e.g., GPA only or combination of other factors) are currently being finalized by the faculty, it is likely that the applications for this program will be open in 2014. This DVM program will be a stand-alone, graduate-entry degree, aimed at students who have already attained a bachelor degree and who are accustomed to the challenge of university studies.
Find out more about the the University of Sydney’s new veterinary science program. Check out our blog “New Sydney Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program for 2015.”

Do you have questions about Sydney Veterinary School and the new Doctor of Veterinary Medicine for the 2015 intake? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or 1-866-698-7355.