Panama disease

Biosecurity Queensland has confirmed that Panama disease tropical race 4 is present in north Queensland.

If you believe you have plants infected with Panama disease tropical race 4, call Biosecurity Queensland immediately on 13 25 23.

To receive regular updates, subscribe to Biosecurity Queensland's Panama disease tropical race 4 Situation Update, by selecting "Biosecurity news" within the eNewsletter section and "Bananas" under Biosecurity Queensland Alerts.

Current situation

The Biosecurity Act 2014 came into effect from 1 July 2016. Under the new legislation, restrictions continue to apply to infested properties and properties suspected of having Panama disease tropical race 4.

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.

Biosecurity Queensland has now confirmed detections of Panama disease tropical race 4 on eight (8) separate areas of the infested Tully Valley banana farm, which remains under quarantine. The disease has not been detected on any other property.

All plants that return positive test results for the disease, as well as a buffer of plants around the infected plants are destroyed using a technically appropriate strategy.

On 10 February 2016, the Queensland Government released an independent report undertaken by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (PDF, 2.6MB) into testing procedures for Panama disease tropical race 4 after test results from a Mareeba banana farm in 2015 were found to be a ‘false positive’. The Deloitte review assessed the adequacy of testing processes from end to end including sampling and diagnostic assessment processes, associated reporting and response activities.

The review determined one of the key diagnostic tests was unreliable and confirmed that no human error occurred, all policies and procedures in relation to Panama disease testing were followed by staff and all reasonable steps were taken to verify this test result.

While the review has found all procedures were followed, the report makes a number of recommendations to further enhance laboratory practices and quality assurance, which included changes to organisational structure, management information systems and documentation. This feedback is valuable and as part of DAF's commitment to continuous improvement the Department is considering what measures can be implemented.

Queensland's current Panama disease testing procedures have recently been confirmed as being accurate and reliable with two independent laboratories verifying the Panama TR4 Program's results and findings. The Royal Botanic Gardens laboratory in Sydney and Stellenbosch University in South Africa, have conducted their own tests of suspect samples taken from the known infested banana farm near Tully and arrived at the same uniformly positive results. Both laboratories are internationally recognised for their research into Fusarium; the group of fungi which can cause Panama disease.

Since March 2015, over 1,470 suspect plant samples for Panama disease tropical race 4 have been processed by the Biosecurity Queensland laboratory.

Biosecurity Queensland's overall program of surveillance and containment, in partnership with industry is continuing. Growers should continue to focus on strengthening their on-farm biosecurity practices to protect their businesses.

Access previous updates about the Panama TR4 Program.

What is Panama disease tropical race 4?

In this section you will find information about Panama disease tropical race 4 including how to identify disease symptoms.

Research into Panama disease tropical race 4

Access updates on research and development activities being undertaken as part of the Panama TR4 Program.

Information for banana growers

Find information and resources for banana growers, both English speaking and those from a non-English speaking background, including the Panama disease tropical race 4 Grower  Kit, educational videos, workshops and farm gate signage.

Information for banana farm workers

Find information for workers both English speaking and those from a non-English speaking background, including information about Panama disease tropical race 4, decontamination instructions and other resources.

Last updated 21 September 2016