TR4 testing under the microscope

The discovery that a diagnosis of Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4) on a Mareeba banana farm was a “false positive” and the farm was clear of the disease prompted a major review of TR4 diagnostics in Queensland.

The independent review by consultancy group Deloitte confirmed the international test that produced the false positive result in March last year was unreliable. The test is no longer used in Queensland TR4 diagnostics.

A summary, along with comments from BQ on actions taken following the review, appears below. The full 44-page report, “Assessment of the end to end sampling and diagnostic process related to Panama disease Tropical Race 4”, can be viewed at health-pests-diseases/a-z-significant/ panama-disease2

The review is dated August 2015 with Biosecurity Queensland beginning work on implementing recommendations prior to the report being publicly released six months later, in February 2016.

A spokesperson for Queensland Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson said: “We recognised there were significant issues in terms of testing and acted immediately to address those issues.”

The review was run in parallel with a separate, broader review into the state’s biosecurity – the Queensland Biosecurity Capability Review. That report was expected to be released in April 2016 and to make recommendations for plans to build the capability of Queensland’s biosecurity system.


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