KoRV and Chlamydia: are they co-culprits?
There are two main infectious disease threats for the koala; Chlamydia and KoRV. A major question is whether or not KoRV predisposes koalas to more severe chlamydial disease. In the only study to date that has examined co-infections, KoRV load (as determined by qPCR) and chlamydial load (as determined by qPCR) and chlamydial disease were examined in wild koalas. While there was a statistically significant correlation between Chlamydia infection load and Chlamydia clinical disease score, there was no significant correlation between KoRV load and either Chlamydia infection load or Chlamydia clinical disease score, however the groups were not ideally constructed and hence additional comparisons are needed. If KoRV does predispose koalas to more severe chlamydial disease, one would expect it to do this via an effect on the koala immune system. A series of Chlamydia vaccine trials in captive as well as wild koalas are showing that koalas in fact appear to make perfectly normal antibody and cytokine responses to vaccine antigens, even if they have high circulating KoRV loads, arguing against an immune suppressive effect by KoRV.