White spot disease surveillance

Surveillance Program for white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) (PDF, 4.3MB) is being undertaken to determine the extent and prevalence of WSSV in Queensland by testing wild and farmed crustaceans across the state.

This includes structured surveillance sampling within the white spot disease movement restriction area and from a number of locations along the east coast of Queensland between Caloundra to Cairns.

Additionally, a national surveillance program is being undertaken by all states and territories in Australia.

Results from the surveillance testing are available through the below maps. Click on the surveillance location (green or red dot) for more information about surveillance results.

White spot disease movement restriction area surveillance results

White spot disease east coast surveillance results

  • Do these results mean that white spot disease is here to stay?

    All states and territories in Australia are currently undergoing proof of freedom surveillance for the virus that causes white spot disease. No decision will be made about whether the disease will be considered established in Moreton Bay or not until all those results have been finalised.

  • Have movement restrictions changed?

    No. Movement restrictions remain unchanged across Moreton Bay which means raw prawns, yabbies and marine worms cannot be moved out of the area, unless cooked first.

  • Can white spot disease be eradicated?

    White spot disease is an extremely contagious viral disease that is present in many areas of the world. Once it has been established in a wild crustacean population it has not been known to be eradicated. At this stage, we don’t know if the virus that causes white spot disease has established in wild crustaceans in Moreton Bay. It is important that we complete testing in all states and territories before making any decisions on the future of our white spot disease strategy.

  • What will this mean for buying and selling seafood in Queensland?

    The trade of seafood in Queensland will continue in accordance with the requirements of the current movement restrictions for white spot disease carriers. That means raw prawns, yabbies and marine worms cannot be moved out of the movement restriction area, unless cooked first.

  • Why are imported green prawns still allowed into the country?

    The Queensland Government doesn't control the importation of produce into the country - this is controlled by the Australian Government. A new import risk assessment for raw prawns is being conducted by the Federal Government. The Queensland Government has provided input into the process through a formal written submission advocating for the implementation of stronger measures to reduce future risks associated with imported seafood that may contain diseases of concern to Australia.

  • When will the next round of surveillance be carried out?

    The next round of surveillance in the white spot disease movement restriction area and along the east coast of Queensland is scheduled to commence in October/November 2019 and February/March 2020 respectively. Surveillance sampling is expected to run for approximately three months.

  • 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.