18 Oct 2017

Panama TR4 Program update on second detection

Panama disease tropical race 4 was confirmed on a second commercial banana farm in the Tully Valley in late July 2017.

Although the second detection was unfortunate, it was not unexpected. Panama disease tropical race 4 is an extremely difficult disease to manage. It has a long latency period and can persist in the soil for up to 40 years without host plants and is easily spread in infected soil, plant material and water.

The infested property is currently operating in accordance with processes and procedures required under a ‘Notice of presence of Panama disease tropical race 4’ and the Queensland Biosecurity Manuals risk minimisation measures.

The second property is in close proximity to the first infested property and not in a new production area, which supports the current effectiveness of the biosecurity measures implemented.

Biosecurity Queensland is helping the affected business to continue to operate as seamlessly as possible while the risk to the rest of the industry is minimised.

The property owners had already established high standards of biosecurity on their farm and have now shown a professional and proactive approach to management of the disease.

Biosecurity Queensland staff continue to:

  • monitor on-farm activity and assist the property owners to contain the infestation
  • conduct fortnightly surveillance on the affected property to ensure any spread of the disease is detected early and controlled. Surveillance is also occurring on other properties that are linked to the affected property by ownership and shared machinery
  • work towards determining the source of the infestation and risk pathways to and from the property through tracing investigations
  • check fruit consignments and machinery, vehicles and equipment to ensure soil and plant material are not being moved off the affected farm.

In light of the second detection, growers are being urged to reassess their farm biosecurity measures to see if they are effective or if they can be improved.

Prevention at the property boundary is still the best line of defence.

Washing and decontaminating vehicles, farm machinery and equipment, tools and footwear both on farm entry and farm exit will minimise the risk of disease spread or infection.

Plants expressing symptoms of Panama disease should be promptly reported to the Biosecurity Queensland hotline on 13 25 23. Not only is this a legal requirement, it is critical to the successful containment of the disease. Early detection and destruction of infected plants helps to slow the spread of the disease. Farm profitability may be extended if the disease is controlled and contained in its early stages.

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. To find out more about Panama disease tropical race 4, visit biosecurity.qld.gov.au

This article a re-post from the Biosecurity Queensland Biosecurity News.

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