​Media Release

Response to Panama disease threat in Tully, Queensland

11 March 2015

Biosecurity Queensland is currently investigating a suspected case of Panama disease, Tropical Race 4 strain (Fusarium wilt), detected on Cavendish bananas in the Tully Valley, North Queensland.​

Australian Government Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said that while the disease is very destructive to banana plants, it was important to remember that it poses no threat to human health.

“I want to encourage Queensland authorities to do everything within their power to prevent any further spread of this disease and, while the Queensland Government is responsible for leading the response to this incident, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture has been in close communication with Biosecurity Queensland on this issue, and has been on standby to render any necessary assistance through the rapid response mechanism,” Minister Joyce said.

“Biosecurity Queensland has now made a request for assistance through the national Rapid Response Team–maintained by Animal Health Australia—which can assist in coordination of responses to possible biosecurity incidents.

“Following this request, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture is now working with Biosecurity Queensland to provide the relevant expert staff to assist with planning and tracing activities.

“The Australian Government and Biosecurity Queensland are responding to this issue as a matter of priority.

“The Australian Government Department of Agriculture has requested further advice from Biosecurity Queensland about what resources they require to respond effectively to this disease threat.

“The key to managing a response well is good preparation and planning—it is of utmost importance that we ensure that good hygiene is maintained to prevent the disease being spread,” Minister Joyce said.

The affected property is quarantined and movement of plant material, soil, machinery, equipment and vehicles on and off the farm is restricted.

Community forums are also being held in banana producing regions of North Queensland to inform growers and promote the importance of strong on-farm biosecurity.

Panama disease is considered to be one of the most destructive diseases of banana. It is spread by soil and water, and with movement of infected planting material. Panama disease, Tropical race 4, which is present in South East Asia and the Northern Territory, poses a significant threat to Australia’s $490 million a year banana industry.

For more information on this issue visit the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website at daff.qld.gov.au/plants/health-pests-diseases/a-z-significant/panama-disease2​.​

If you suspect Panama disease on your plants, contact Biosecurity Queensland immediately on 13 25 23 or call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.