Project 11.2 'Improved approaches for detection of disease and prevention of spread in Torres Strait'

Project 11.2 'Improved approaches for detection of disease and prevention of spread in Torres Strait'

Torres Strait has long been recognised as a bridge into Australia and there has been a focus on both human and wildlife diseases and their presence in the area in the past.  Zoonoses, or diseases borne by animals, are of increasing concern to Australia. These diseases represent serious threats to human health, to our agriculture and to our biodiversity. In this project we will be focusing on improved methodologies for detection of disease incursions in Torres Strait and options to mitigate the establishment and the persistence of serious diseases of wildlife in the region. 

While many threats to our biosecurity are vector-borne, they differ from many of the vector-borne diseases we currently struggle against in that their vectors are often vertebrates that associate with humans and their activities, e.g. birds for avian influenza and domestic animals and flying-foxes for Hendra, Nipah and other viruses.  

The demonstration that vector and people movements are sufficient to bringing serious diseases into Australia raises a number of questions; what is the likelihood of the movement of diseases into Australia and what advances can be made in detection and prevention of the establishment of these diseases. 

The research team’s previous research in a MTSRF transition project demonstrated that for mosquito vectors anthropological change and corridors of people movement increased the disease threat to forest birds and, by inference, other vertebrates. The methodologies developed in this project are applicable to Torres Strait scenarios.

Key objectives:

  • Using on-going epidemiological (BioSecurity Queensland) and ecological studies and field work conducted as part of this project, to develop improved detection of wildlife disease incursions.
  • Analyse the influence inter-island and PNG Western Province traffic on insect vectors of disease and the subsequent the disease load of birds (as an indicator).
  • Use the results to identify appropriate responses for minimizing the risks associated with disease incursion for example:
    • What is the likely pattern and rate of disease spread?
    • What are the possible management and mitigation options?
    • What are the likely biodiversity conservation implications of disease incursions?

Project outputs at a glance

  • Improved methodology for detecting the establishment and persistence of disease incursions in Torres Strait; resulting in increased capacity to protect Torres Strait biodiversity and peoples from disease incursions.

Specific objectives and intended outputs of this Project are detailed in the NERP TE Hub Multi-Year Research Plan.

Project Factsheet     Project Factsheet for the Torres Strait community

Technical Report

Detecting Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Torres Strait: a review of vector, host and disease studies


Link to the Project 11.2 homepage on e-Atlas


Project Duration: 
1 Jul 2011 to 31 Dec 2014


Project People