Native Kākāpō suffer outbreak of fungal disease, seven dead so far

Dunedin's Wildlife Hospital is assisting with the response to a fungal disease which has killed seven Kākāpō this season.

The outbreak of the respiratory infection on Codfish Island cruelly follows a bumper breeding season. 

Dozens of Kākāpō on predator-free Codfish Island were infected this season by a fungal disease called aspergillosis.

The sick birds were transferred to facilities in Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington and Dunedin for special care.

"They have such a unique respiratory system, so they are extra susceptible to this disease. And then if they're a little bit stressed, that sort of amplifies it even more," Dunedin Wildlife Hospital vet, Dr Lisa Argilla, told Newshub.

The national response is helping to restrict the outbreak, which has claimed the lives of seven of the endangered birds.

Fortunately, it has been a bumper breeding season. The team at Dunedin Wildlife Hospital have helped hand-rear 25 chicks.

The Dunedin facility started in partnership with Otago Polytech and has proven its weight in Kākāpō gold.

"Many of those birds are endangered or highly endangered, so we are absolutely making a critical difference to some of New Zealand's most iconic species," Dunedin Wildlife Hospital Trust Chairman, Steve Walker, told Newshub.

As the birds recover in the warmth of the indoor enclosures, soon they'll be heading south to their remote outpost of Codfish Island.