NERP TE Project 11.2 Improved approaches for detection of disease and prevention of spread in Torres Strait (JCU)

This project focuses on improving methods to detect the introduction of exotic animal diseases into the Torres Strait. The researchers will examine the environmental factors that influence the establishment and persistence of wildlife diseases in the region. They will study insect disease vectors and the incidence of disease in birds in a range of habitats in order to identify where disease risk is greatest. Field studies will be conducted using replicated mosquito trapping and mist netting of birds in Torres Strait, at sites identified from previous projects. Outcomes include: 1. Developing a model of disease dynamics across the Torres Strait based on past and ongoing epidemiology and ecological studies on vectors, reservoir hosts and known disease prevalence including the influence of inter-island and PNG traffic on insect vectors. 2. Undertake a fieldwork program that tests and improves upon our understanding (the model) of how diseases are maintained and dispersed across the islands. 3. Use the results to identify appropriate responses for minimizing the risks associated with disease incursion. 4. Develop capacity in north Queensland in the identification and sampling of vectors and diseases

Animal-borne diseases pose serious threats to human health, agriculture and to Australia’s biodiversity. There is a real possibility of disease entering Australia through people or animal movements through the Torres Strait. In this project, we will be focusing on improving our understanding of how diseases move across the Straits and what methodologies would be best for detecting disease incursions and managing outbreaks within the region.

Principal Investigator
Laurance, Susan, Dr Centre for Tropical Environmental & Sustainability Sciences, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University (JCU) susan.laurance@jcu.edu.au
Co Investigator
Dagmar Meyer Steiger, PhD Candidate Centre for Tropical Environmental & Sustainability Sciences, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University (JCU) dagmar.meyersteiger@my.jcu.edu.au

Publications / Data