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Biology (Year 12) - Pathogen Management Strategies

Ben Whitten

Unless you've been living under a rock in the past couple of years, quarantine is a term which is no stranger to us. Quarantine is defined as being a period of isolation for potentially infected individuals in order to prevent the spread of a particular infectious disease. The purpose of quarantine is to counter the spread of the disease through moving individuals. Organisms who are suspected of carrying a particular disease are isolated from local, susceptible populations until at least the incubation period is finished, and there are no clinical signs or symptoms of the disease, and a negative result has returned on the testing for that disease. Australia has a number of strict quarantine laws for the entry of items that may carry an infectious animal or plant disease. What is biosecurity? Biosecurity is defined as the strategies which are put in place to support the prevention of, response to and the recovery from diseases which actively affect our economy, our environment and our health. Biosecurity in Australia has been the main factor assisting in the maintenance of a disease-free status in regard to many of the world's diseases, which has also been aided by Australia's relative geographical isolation. Quarantine is a practice which is used by our biosecurity officers in order to stop goods and individuals who've been exposed to infectious diseases from carrying said disease into healthy and susceptible populations.

Where did quarantine originate from? The origins of quarantine lie in the 14th century Bubonic plague, where individuals would be isolated and kept away from healthy individuals in order to stop the spread of the disease. Ships which were arriving into Venetian ports had to anchor just outside the port for 40 days before passengers could disembark.

The impact of COVID-19 On the 12th of March, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO. From the 28th of March onwards, passengers arriving in Australia from overseas were subject to the Australian Government's mandatory period of quarantine, 14 days. Individuals placed in quarantine had to remain in their allocated accommodation until they were cleared to enter the community by medical professionals.

Protecting Australia's agriculture industry In order to protect Australia's agriculture industry and environment against the surge of materials and organisms which carry disease, a number of measures are taken.

  1. All materials brought into Australia are to be inspected and confiscated if there is suspicion to particular items

  2. Materials and organisms (plants especially) that show signs of infectious disease are to be destroyed or transported to a quarantine station

  3. Monitoring for vectors entering Australia and the use of biotechnology in species identification

  4. Northern Australia on high alert for infectious disease due to its close proximity to SE Asia

  5. Any items including tools are treated prior to any inter-regional movement

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