A Search For Better Health
Topic 14: Quarantine
Biology in Focus, HSC Course
Glenda Childrawi, Margaret Robson and Stephanie Hollis
DOT Point(s)
discuss the role of quarantine in preventing the spread of disease
and plants and animals into Australia or across regions of Australia
The increased understanding of
the cause and treatment of
disease has led to a dramatic rise
in the average life expectancy
over the last 100 years. With the
major advancements in the field
of medical research, the
emphasis now is on improving
the prevention and control of
diseases rather on treating them
once they have occurred.
Prevention of a disease involves
stopping the occurrence of the
disease in individuals. Control of a
disease involves regulating the
incidence of the disease in the
population and stopping any
further spread of the disease. Some
of the strategies that can be used to
prevent and control disease are
vaccination, quarantine, public
health programs, the use of
pesticides and genetic engineering.
 Quarantine, or isolation, of diseased organisms is a strategy that
has been used for a very long time to control the spread of a
disease. The word ‘quarantine’ comes from the Italian quaranti
giorni, meaning ‘40 days’.
In the 14th century, when
bubonic plaque was sweeping
through Europe, any ships that
were visiting Venice had to anchor
away from the city for a period of
40 days before they could unload
their passengers or cargo. It was
thought that this was sufficient
time for any diseases that were
present on the ship to be
identified or to run their course.
Australia is one of the very few
countries in the world that
remain free of the world’s most
serious pests and diseases.
Originally, this was due mainly
to our geographical isolation.
This isolation decreased as
international travel and trade
increased and led to the need for
a much more sophisticated and
thorough system to prevent the
entry of pests and diseases into
our country.
 The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is
responsible for maintaining our reputation as a relatively
disease-free country.
www.perthairport.com.au -
 The role of quarantine is to minimise the risk of exotic pests and
diseases entering Australia in order to protect our native flora
and fauna, our agricultural industries, our environment and our
Our thousands of kilometres of
coastline, and our proximity to
neighbouring countries such as
South-East Asia and the Pacific
nations, which have pests and
diseases that are not present in
Australia, make us particularly
vulnerable to invasions.
These pests and diseases could be brought into Australia by people,
animals and plants. They could also be brought in by animal and
plant products, or in soil that is on shoes or machinery.
AQIS has many strategies in place to prevent the entry of
unwanted pests and diseases into Australia. These include:
 Border control, which involves the checking of passengers
and cargo at the entry points into Australia.
A range of techniques are used by
quarantine officers, including Xray machines, detector dogs,
surveillance and inspection at
international airports, seaports,
mail exchanges and container
depots. Containers are checked,
holds of ships are inspected, mail is
often opened and inspected, and
the entry of any suspect item is
stopped. The cargo, ballast water
and hulls of ships can also be
checked to ensure that no foreign
pest is present.
People entering Australia may not bring in such things as plant
seeds, fresh foods, eggs and egg products, dairy products, meat
and all pork products, or soil (including that on muddy boots or
golf clubs). All of these items and more could contain many
dangerous plant and animal pests and diseases.
In an effort to deter the entry of
prohibited material into
Australia, and thus prevent the
entry of plant and animal
diseases into Australia, large
fines and gaol terms are imposed
on individuals who are guilty of
bringing banned items into
 Animal quarantine, which involves all animals coming into
Australia spending time at quarantine stations to make sure that
they are free of disease before they are released.
If you had pets that you wanted to bring into Australia, you would
have to leave them in quarantine for a number of weeks. These
animals would be examined on a regular basis for any signs of
 Plant quarantine, which
involves examining all plants,
parts of plants or plant
products (fruits, seeds,
cuttings, bulbs and wood).
Many of these items will be
refused entry into Australia. In
some cases these items will be
allowed into Australia only if
they are treated by quarantine
officers to ensure any likely pests
or pathogens are destroyed.
 Human quarantine. The captains of aircrafts and ships are
required to notify AQIS if any passengers or crew are displaying
any symptoms of prohibited diseases such as rabies, yellow fever,
malaria, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and avian
influenza (bird flu). Passengers showing any symptoms as
designated by AQIS must also be reported.
 The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS).
The northern part of Australia is only a short distance from
countries that have many exotic pests and diseases not present in
Australia. An early warning system has been developed to
protect this susceptible area of Australia.
NAQS staff also liaise with staff from the quarantine services of
neighbouring countries to determine, among other things, if there
have been any outbreaks of new diseases in their countries.
Surveillance of existing diseases is also carried out in these
 The role of quarantine strategies within Australia is to prevent
the spread of existing pests and diseases of plants and animals,
especially to areas that are free of these pests and diseases.
Within Australia there are also restrictions on the movement of
fruit, vegetables and livestock from one area to another.
Pests and diseases can spread from one part of Australia to another
by the movement of plants, seeds, fruit, vegetables, soil, plant
products and livestock. Each state and territory has in place
legislation that governs the movement of these items from one
area to another.
This is to protect the agricultural
industries from invasion by pests
and diseases and enable them to
continue supplying both local and
export markets. If a pest or
disease were to be introduced
into an agricultural production
area, it could lead to expensive
control measures and the loss of
markets worth millions of
In 1994, growers, industry and governments from three states
established a fruit fly exclusion zone (FFEZ) in order to protect
the fruitgrowing regions in South Australia, northern Victoria and
southern New South Wales.
When infested with the Queensland fruit fly, the fruit produced
will appear normal on the outside but be very soft and brown on
the inside. Fruit-growing areas in the FFEZ are free of infestation
by the Queensland fruit fly.
Growers from within the zone can market their product as being
free from fruit fly; this allows them to access many lucrative
markets that growers outside the zone cannot.
Fruit flies are incapable of flying very far, so the main way in
which they are introduced into an area is in infected fruit carried
by visitors to the area.
There are warning signs on all
roads approaching the
boundaries of the FFEZ asking
that any fruit be placed in the
quarantine bins supplied. There
are also a number of permanent
checkpoints in place to prevent
the movement of fruit into these
areas. Heavy fines apply to
anyone who takes fruit into the
The effectiveness of these
strategies to prevent the spread
of fruit fly into the FFEZ has
been fairly high as this area has
remained relatively free from
the pest for many years. There
are a number of other
restrictions on the movement of
plants and animals in place in
-Students to complete Effectiveness of Quarantine Activity.