Project number: 2018-090
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $70,168.00
Principal Investigator: Shane D. Roberts
Organisation: Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)
Project start/end date: 31 Jul 2018 - 31 Oct 2019


Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) is a disease caused by Ostreid Herpesvirus type 1 (OsHV-1) microvariant, which causes rapid high mortalities (up to 100%) in Pacific oysters. POMS has caused significant economic impacts to the oyster growing industry in parts of NSW and Tasmania where it occurs. On 28 February 2018 OsHV-1 was first detected in Port Adelaide River feral oyster populations. PIRSA and industry mounted an immediate emergency response aimed at containing the virus to the Port and preventing spread to the nearby oyster industry (>25km away).

In the absence of accurate information, surveillance designs and emergency response plans (including translocation protocols) assume a disease spread distance of 5NM (10km) to define epidemiological units for all water bodies (see Figure 1). That uncertainty causes policy makers to take a conservative approach. Consequently there is a need to improve the accuracy of predictive information used to manage such aquatic disease incursions.

Aim: Model the dispersal of Ostreid herpesvirus (OsHV-1) particles from various locations around South Australia to determine epidemiological units aimed at improving surveillance, biosecurity zoning and future emergency responses.

This project aligns with two key objectives of Australia’s National Strategic Plan for Aquatic Animal Health (AQUAPLAN 2014-2019): (1) Enhance surveillance, and (2) Strengthen emergency disease preparedness and response capability. See

A recent FRDC project (2006/005) demonstrated how various oceanographic data can be incorporated into a hydrodynamic model (e-SA marine system) to map past, present and future ocean conditions. This project proposal will provide a case study for how such a model can predict pathogen spread to underpin improved surveillance designs, effective emergency disease response and appropriate biosecurity zoning for translocation protocols.


1. To model viral particle dispersal at key locations around the State, including commercial oyster growing areas, known feral oyster populations and ports, and incorporating seasonal oceanographic parameters
2. Using hydrodynamic model outputs, identify epidemiological units to inform surveillance, disease management and emergency disease response activities
3. Demonstrate how hydrodynamic model outputs of predicted viral particle dispersal can be used to develop a risk-based surveillance design for the detection of OsHV-1

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-876007-22-5
Authors: Shane Roberts Charles James Matthew Bansemer Frank Colberg Saima Aijaz Kaine Jakaitis Eric Schulz and John Middleton
Final Report • 2020-01-01 • 6.85 MB


Rapid predictive capability of viral spread through water during an aquatic disease outbreak is an epidemiologist’s dream, and up until now has not been achievable. A biophysical particle tracking model for Ostreid herpesvirus 1 microvariant (OsHV-1) that causes POMS was developed to determine virus spread during disease outbreaks in South Australian coastal waters. Model outputs from 23 hypothetical outbreaks across the State have provided valuable information for PIRSA to review and update current Disease Management Areas (DMAs) for POMS. Outputs from this project will greatly enhance future disease surveillance programs and emergency responses.

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