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A new suspected case of Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) has been detected on a banana farm in Queensland, Australia.

Biosecurity Queensland officers identified banana plants that displayed symptoms typical of Panama TR4 during a routine inspection on a Tully Valley property in January 2020.

One sample from the suspect plants returned a positive result to a preliminary diagnostic test, resulting in a suspected case of Panama TR4.

While this result indicates strong evidence of the presence of the disease, further detailed diagnostic testing is needed to provide a conclusive result.

The suspect property is in close proximity to the three previously confirmed infested Panama TR4 properties in the Tully Valley.

If confirmed, this will be only the fourth property infested in Queensland since the disease was first detected in the state in 2015, the previous detection was confirmed in 2018.

Stephen Lowe, chair of the Australian Banana Growers’ Council, said the news came as a blow to the grower and the industry.

“First and foremost, our thoughts are with the grower affected,” Lowe said.

“This is no doubt a challenging time for them and their family, and we will help them through this in any way we can.

“While as an industry we knew this disease would eventually spread, this is still devastating news that no-one wanted to hear.”

Lowe said this detection was a reminder that Panama TR4 is not going away and all growers need to maintain strong biosecurity practices.

“Biosecurity Queensland has a strong surveillance program in place and this has assisted with early detection of the disease in the past, and has again with this latest case,” Lowe said.

“It has been an incredible feat that the disease has been contained to such a small area in almost five years. Indeed, this latest case is in close proximity to the other affected farms in Tully. However, there can be no doubt that it is spreading – and sadly it will continue to do so.”