Historic Incidents

For information on health incidents involving wildlife in your state or territory contact your WHA Coordinator

Bushfires 2019-20

 Advice from Wildlife Health Australia (WHA) for Enhancing Australia’s Native Wildlife Bushfire Response identified by the WHA Bushfires Emergency Response Task Group and provided to the Australian government.

 Bushfire emergencies now impacting one billion Australian native animals - 10 Jan 2020

 How you can support wildlife during the bushfire emergency - 7 Jan 2020

 Information and Resources for Veterinarians, Vet Nurses, Registered Carers and the Community

 Supplying water and food for free-living wildlife after natural disasters

New window icon Assessment, Triage & Treatment of Bushfire Affected Wildlife 
- E-Learning module for vets & vet nurses - Taronga Conservation Society Australia

Shearwater Mortalities

Image Courtesy of A Silcocks


In October 2013, dead shearwaters (Puffinus spp.) were washing up along beaches and coastlines from Queensland to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. The majority of the birds were short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris). Short-tailed shearwaters are a widespread, abundant seabird species, with a worldwide population in excess of 18 million animals. They spend approximately six months in Australia nesting and breeding before returning to their wintering grounds in the northern hemisphere in April. A number of other shearwater species were also been reported washed up on beaches, including: wedge-tailed (P. pacificus), fluttering (P. gavia) and flesh-footed (P. carneipes).

The conclusion was that this is a ‘natural but unfortunate event, with birds having died from exhaustion and starvation, following their long annual migration from the northern hemisphere to nesting areas in the southern hemisphere. Birds are often in poor condition and have limited energy reserves, having travelled over 15,000km. Die-offs occur annually, however this year has seen an extensive and widespread number deaths. Severe weather and difficulty finding sufficient fish stocks during their migration are considered to be contributing factors. 

Potential for diseases to be involved a part of the cause of the mortalities was investigated; a number of birds were submitted for necropsy from a number of locations in Qld, NSW, Vic, Tas and WA. All have showed similar results, including muscle wasting, emaciation and evidence of starvation. Some infectious diseases including avian influenza and Newcastle disease were excluded by PCR in the events in NSW, Vic, Tas and WA. Infection with West Nile Virus was also excluded by PCR in birds from NSW.

If you see a large number of dead birds on a beach, you can report the incident to your state or territory WHA Coordinator. If you find any live birds that are obviously unwell or injured, please contact your local veterinarian or wildlife carer group for advice.  


Shearwater mortalities -  Summary 11.12.2013 [PDF; 432 KB; 1pg] 

Note: WHA would like to thank all those who submitted information, including our subscribers, state and territory WHA coordinators, university researchers and zoo veterinarians. 

Rainbow lorikeet deaths



In early March 2012, a number of wild rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) were report as dead or sick at a number of sites in the eastern and north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Sick birds were showing signs such as diarrhoea, vomiting, regurgitation, and lethargy. In some cases, hand feeding of lorikeets had occurred at the sites where birds were found. Investigations were undertaken by veterinary staff at the University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary Science and Victorian Department of Primary Industries.

More Information: 

NSW OEH - The dangers of feeding lorikeets 

Necrotic enteritis in free-living rainbow lorikeets [summary in AHSQ Vol. 17 Issue 1] 

Skin lesions in southern bent-winged bats



Nodular skin lesions were observed on the wings of critically endangered southern bent-winged bats (Miniopterus orianae bassani) in a breeding colony at Naracoorte, South Australia in September 2009. Approx. 50-60% of adults of an estimated population of 26,000 bats were affected. Similar skin lesions had been observed at lower prevalence in previous years.

Histological examination (McLelland et al, 2013) found the lesions to be granulomas with a nematode at the centre. The nematode was identified as Riouxgolvania beveridgei, which had previously been reported in the eastern bent-winged bat (Miniopterus orianae oceanensis) (Bain and Chabaud, 1979). The lesions did not appear to have a significant impact on the affected bats or the population, although the reasons for the oubreak were not determined (McLelland et al, 2013).


Bain O & Chabaud (1979) Sur les Muspiceidae (Nematoda-Dorylaimina). Anneles de Parasitologie Paris 54, 207-225.​

McLelland DJ et al (2013). Outbreak of skin nodules associated with Riouxgolvania beveridgei (Nematoda: Muspiceida) in the southern bentwing bat (Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii), South Australia. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 49(4), 1009-1013.