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White spot disease surveillance

Surveillance maps

Surveillance sites in the movement restriction area (Moreton Bay, Logan River and Brisbane River areas).

Surveillance sites along the east coast of Queensland, outside of the movement restriction area

Sampling summary

All samples tested to date are negative for the virus that causes white spot disease. This data contained in these maps is current as of the 12/10/2017.

Surveillance results – FAQs

Do these results mean that white spot disease is gone?

No, the results do not mean that white spot disease has gone but it does indicate the disease may not be established in Moreton Bay. This means that the disease control activities that have been undertaken so far have been effective, however we will need to have negative results consecutively for the next two years before freedom from white spot disease can be declared.

Why are movement restrictions still in place if all the tests are negative?

Movement restrictions need to remain in place until we declare the area ‘white spot disease free’, which means we would need to get negative surveillance results consecutively over the next two years for the restrictions to be lifted. It is possible for the virus that causes white spot disease be present in the Moreton Bay but at a very low prevalence.

How long will movement restrictions be in place for?

The movement restrictions will be in place for a minimum of two years, providing we continue to get negative results. If we receive positive results in the future then this timeframe will be extended.

When will the next round of testing be carried out

The next round of surveillance will resume in early 2018 (February/March). This will include the movement restriction area and the east coast of Queensland.

What does white spot disease surveillance actually mean?

Surveillance means we are looking for white spot disease or signs of the disease. When conducting surveillance we collect prawn samples from different locations across a specific area and test them in our laboratory to see if they have the virus that causes white spot disease.

What is actually done when you test a prawn sample? 

Our technicians at Queensland’s Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory take part of the prawn and break it up in a small tube. The pulverised sample is used to obtain DNA through a process called DNA extraction. The DNA undergoes a diagnostic process (real time PCR) that makes billions of copies of the DNA, and using a fluorescence marker, highlights if DNA from the virus that causes white spot disease is present. This test is similar to tests used by forensic scientists when testing for human DNA at a crime scene.

All positive tests are sent to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, for confirmation where the samples are tested again.

What is proof of freedom surveillance?

Proof of Freedom is a nationally coordinated and structured approach to surveillance through sampling, to determine national freedom from, in this case, white spot disease (WSD). The international standard requires two years of consecutive negative results for WSD, from the samples obtained during active surveillance, to demonstrate freedom from disease.

Why do we need to test across the state if white spot disease has only been found in South East Queensland?

Testing for white spot disease has been conducted across the state to check if the disease has been introduced in any other locations and to ensure the disease has not spread from South East Queensland. The results from the most recent round of surveillance along the east coast of Queensland indicate that it has not spread, at this stage, from the initial entry point in South East Queensland.

What is the White Spot Disease Program doing to stop the disease? 

The White Spot Disease Program is focused on continued surveillance as well as prevention and control activities within the restricted area, with the aim of eradicating white spot disease in Queensland and returning Australia to a white spot disease free zone.

To date, all infected prawn farms in the Logan River region have been disinfected and are now laying fallow for twelve months to ensure the virus that causes the disease is no longer present. Additionally, more than 50,000 prawn and crab samples have been collected and tested for the virus that causes white spot disease.

Movement restrictions have been put in place to reduce the likelihood of the virus that causes white spot disease being spread through human assistance. Fishing restrictions have also been put in place in high-risk areas around prawn farms.

What are the major risks people should be aware of?

Using imported prawns as bait may introduce serious disease into our natural waterways, which is why it is important to only use Australian wild-caught bait from a quality bait supplier or catch your own.

Not disposing of raw seafood properly could also introduce disease, so putting seafood scraps in the bin and not into waterways is also vital to keeping Queensland disease-free.

Moving raw prawns, yabbies and marine worms out of the restricted area could spread the disease into other waterways in Queensland that is why movement restrictions are in place.

Last updated 17 November 2017