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Epidemiology of Mycobacterium ulcerans Infection in Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) on Raymond Island, Southeastern Australia

P.J. Mitchell1,3, S. McOrist1, and R. Bilney2

1Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 483, Bairnsdale, Victoria 3875, Australia

2Ministry for Conservation, Forests and Lands, Bairnsdale, Victoria 3875, Australia
3Present address: Department of Zoology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3168, Australia


Mycobacterium ulcerans infections were found in 11 koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) between 1980 and 1985, in a population of approximately 200 koatas on Raymond Island in southeastern Australia. Ulcers caused by the infection occurred on the face, forearm, rump, groin and footpads. Seven koalas had multiple ulcers. All the infected animals were mature (age classes 4, 5 and 6), and eight were male. The distribution of ulcers corresponded with the distribution of wounds in a sample of 87 koalas. Many of these wounds were associated with social behaviour.