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Exotic disease of pawpaw detected

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Joint Statement

PIE91/GJQ . 11 March 1991


The exotic disease 'pawpaw ringspot virus' has_been detected in .three districts in south-east Queensland, the [Federal Minister / [for Resources, Mr Alan Griffiths,/and the Queensland-Minister~ 1 for Primary Industries, Mr Ed Casey, announced today.

The virus is considered one of the most devastating diseases of pawpaws, and has never previously been detected in Australia.

"The disease was first detected on a property at Warmuran , about 50 kilometres north of Brisbane," the Ministers said.

"It has since been found in the neighboring districts of Dayboro and Burpengary.

"Quarantine officers are now surveying all pawpaw producing areas in Queensland in an effort to determine the extent of the outbreak."

The Ministers said eradication or control of the disease might be impossible as it is easily spread by aphids.

As well, a wide range of cucurbits, including cucumbers and watermelons, can act as alternative hosts for the virus.

The Ministers said the origin of the outbreak was not known.

"Pawpaw ringspot virus occurs in a number of overseas countries including Hawaii, where it causes serious losses of production in pawpaw crops," they said.

"Although Australia freely imports pawpaw fruit and seed, these are not considered to pose a quarantine risk.

"Pawpaw plants can carry the virus, but no plants have been legally imported through quarantine for many years."

The Ministers said any grower noticing unusual crop symptoms should contact the Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Symptoms include mottling of the leaves, streaks on the leaf stalks, and ringspots on fruit. The shape of infected leaves may also be affected.

INFORMATION: Neville Kruger 07 239 3361 Don Gumming bh 06 272 5500 ah 06 231 0876