Koala with rare case of excessive drooling gets life-saving radiation treatment in Albany Creek
August 9, 2011
A WILD koala received its first dose of radiation therapy in Albany Creek today to treat a rare case of excessive drooling.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital veterinarian Dr Amber Gillett said Sprinkles the koala suffered from severe skin infections and was in desperate need of treatment to improve her quality of life.
The koala has been raised at the wildlife hospital since she was admitted as a joey almost a year ago following a car accident which killed her mother. The young koala was handed a life-line by Dr Rod Straw – the founder of the Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre at Albany Creek – who provided radiation to reduce the size of Sprinkles salivary glands to halt the flow of saliva from her mouth.
Dr Straw said radiation was most commonly used to treat cancer but it had been applied to reduce salivary glands in humans and he hoped Sprinkles would make a full recovery. “The side-effects for the short-term are virtually zero. What we don’t know are the late effects,” he said. “What we hope is that she does have a rapid improvement, that she’ll grow and breed and go back to the environment.” Dr Gillett said they were grateful to the support of Dr Straw, who was providing the $2500 treatment for free.
Dr Amber Gillett said she had seen only two other cases of excessive drooling in koalas and both had to euthanised.
“This treatment is very important for Sprinkles. Even though she is an otherwise very healthy little girl, she would not survive in the wild with this sort of condition.” Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre is home to the only radiation therapy unit in the southern hemisphere used to treatment animals with cancer and sees more than 300 cancer affected animals each year.