News and Views

Panama disease suspected on another property

Panama disease tropical race 4 was initially detected on Cavendish banana plants on a farm in the Tully Valley, North Queensland, on 3 March 2015.

Samples taken from banana plants on another property in the Tully Valley have returned a positive result from an initial molecular (PCR) test for Panama disease tropical race 4.

Biosecurity Queensland’s Chief Biosecurity Officer, Dr Jim Thompson said a range of diagnostic tests were yet to be completed by the Plant Biosecurity Laboratory in Brisbane and until all tests were completed, a final conclusive positive result cannot be given.

“The suite of tests will take up to 4-6 weeks to complete,” Dr Thompson said.

“The property owners are working with Biosecurity Queensland to control and contain any disease and mitigate the risk of further spread. They’re exceptionally proactive and already have strict on-farm biosecurity measures in place on their property.

“The property owners are erecting exclusion fencing around the area to minimise the potential risk of disease spread while diagnostic testing is completed.

“We will be working with them and the industry body, the Australian Banana Growers’ Council, to provide support and advice as required.

“Prompt reporting of plants with suspected symptoms of Panama disease is a legal requirement, and critical to successful containment of the disease. Early detection and destruction of infected plants helps to slow any spread.

“Growers are urged to maintain their on-farm biosecurity to protect their properties from Panama disease tropical race 4.

“As the disease is spread through soil, mud and infected plant material, it is essential that people, vehicles and machinery and equipment are appropriately decontaminated on property entry and exit.”

Panama disease tropical race 4 is not harmful to humans and does not affect the fruit. The fungus only affects the health of the plant and its ability to produce fruit. Bananas are still good to eat.

If you suspect Panama disease in your plants, report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Source: Queensland Government

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