The same technology used to identify Covid-19 early in 2020 has been used to successfully work out the source of recent mass deaths in our precious yellow-eyed penguin population.

 A multi-agency research team identified a novel gyrovirus as likely to be responsible for the fatal disease following recent post-mortems of 43 dead chicks.

And now that the disease has been identified, there are hopes further such hoiho deaths can be prevented.

The research group comprises the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital (based on Otago Polytechnic’s Dunedin campus), along with Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust, Department of Conservation, Ministry for Primary Industries and both Otago and Massey universities.

"We collected tissues from the chicks that died of respiratory distress syndrome and used next-generation sequencing technology to try to identify any pathogens present," virologist Dr Jemma Geoghegan explains.

"This is the same technology that Chinese scientists used to identify that a new coronavirus was causing a respiratory disease in humans, which of course was later named SARS-CoV-2.”

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Published on 19 Jan 2023

Orderdate: 19 Jan 2023
Expiry: 19 Jan 2025