Cuddles and koalas
I’m really worried about the future of koalas; it is so disheartening to have a government allow ongoing clearing of native habitat, the greatest threat tot their survival, then try to play catch-up with millions in grants.
They also suffer from chlamydia, which is sexually transmitted, but causes a range of conditions – conjunctivitis, pneumonia and urinary and genital tract infections. Koalas under stress, such as caused by habitat destruction and encroachment, are at greater risk of chlamydia.
The strains of chlamydia that infect koalas differ from the strain chlamydia trachomatis that generally infects humans.
Chlamydia in humans, like koalas, can cause range of issues. Trachoma is an eye infection that is more common in dry, dusty underprivileged areas, and is a leading cause of blindness in the world. Babies born to mothers with active chlamydia are at risk of conjunctivitis and pneumonia and can become very unwell.
Young people are the highest risk group for sexually-transmitted chlamydia. In males the symptoms can include painful urination, painful testicles, or discharge from the penis. Females may also have painful urination, pelvic pain, irregular bleeding and vaginal discharge. Most people, however, have few or no symptoms. Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
Preventing chlamydia, and screening for its presence, are important public health measures. Pap smears have traditionally represented an opportunity to check for infections in women. Cervical screening now commences at age 25 and most people will only need a test every five years. This means it is now more important for young people to attend a GP or sexual health clinic for assessment if unprotected intercourse is occurring.
Of course, if you’re in the mood for a cuddle, prevention is better than cure, so stay safe. Get to know your partner, slip on some protection, and avoid intoxicated liaisons. And in the morning write to your local member and demand a better deal for koalas.
Dr Marie Healy is a GP with interests in aged and chronic care and health promotion. This advice is general in nature; please see your GP for specific health advice regarding your individual circumstances.