Associate Professor Colleen Lau

NHMRC Fellow



Dr Colleen Lau is a clinician with special interest in travel medicine and tropical medicine. Colleen's research interests include infectious disease epidemiology, emerging infectious diseases, environmental health, spatial epidemiology, travel vaccinations, malaria prophylaxis, tropical medicine, and the impact of global environmental change on infectious diseases. Her research projects focus on answering practical questions in clinical management of infectious diseases, and operational questions on improving strategies to solve public health problems. She is currently an NHMRC Fellow in the Department of Global Health at the Research School of Population Health.

Dr Lau has a particular interest in the eco-epidemiology of leptospirosis, and the impact of global environmental change (including climate change, flooding, population growth, urbanisation, agricultural intensification, and biodiversity loss) on the transmission dynamics of this disease. Her work has included eco-epidemiology studies and risk mapping of leptospirosis in American Samoa, Fiji, and Queensland. She was also engaged as a WHO consultant to help develop Fiji's National Guidelines for Diagnosis and Management of Leptospirosis.

Another special research interest is lymphatic filariasis elimination, to determine the most effective strategies for managing the endgame of the global disease elimination program. Dr Lau is currently leading an operational research project on lymphatic filariasis elimination in American Samoa, in collaboration with the Taskforce for Global Health, CDC Atlanta, and the American Samoa Department of Health.

Dr Lau is a regular guest lecturer in Tropical Medicine at James Cook University, in Travel Medicine at the University of Otago, and at Continuing Medical Education (CME) events for General Practitioners.


Research interests

  • Infectious Diseases110309
  • Epidemiology111706
  • Environmental And Occupational Health And Safety111705
  • Primary Health Care111717
  • Public Health And Health Services1117
  • Pacific Peoples Health111715


  • Hedtke, S, Kuesel, A, Crawford, K et al 2020, 'Genomic Epidemiology in Filarial Nematodes: Transforming the Basis for Elimination Program Decisions', Frontiers in Genetics, vol. 10, no. 1282, pp. 1-24.
  • Coutts, S, Lau, C, Field, E et al 2019, 'Delays in patient presentation and diagnosis for buruli ulcer (Mycobacterium ulcerans Infection) in Victoria, Australia, 2011-2017', Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease, vol. 4, no. 100, pp. 1-10.
  • Lau, C, Ramsey, L, Mills, L et al 2019, 'Drug-free holidays: Compliance, tolerability, and acceptability of a 3-day atovaquone/proguanil schedule for pre-travel malaria chemoprophylaxis in Australian travellers', Clinical Infectious Diseases, vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 137-143.
  • Foxlee, N, Townell, N, McIver, L et al 2019, 'Antibiotic Resistance in Pacific Island Countries and Territories: A Systematic Scoping Review', Antibiotics, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 1-18.
  • Hanrahan, J, Hogan, T, Buckley, C et al 2019, 'Emergence and spread of ciprofloxacin-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae in New South Wales, Australia: lessons from history
    ', Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, vol. 74, no. 8, pp. 2214-2219.
  • Owada, K, Nielsen, M, Lau, C et al 2019, 'Functional illiteracy burden in soil-transmitted helminth (STH) endemic regions of the Philippines: An ecological study and geographical prediction for 2017', PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol. 13, no. 6, pp. 1-23.
  • Thomson, R, Furuya Kanamori, L, Coffey, C et al 2019, 'Influence of Climate Variables on the Rising Incidence of Nontuberculous Mycobacterial (NTM) Infections in Queensland, Australia 2001-2016', American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, vol. 199, pp. 1pp.
  • Owada, K, Nielsen, M, Lau, C et al 2019, 'Functional illiteracy burden in soil-transmitted helminth (STH) endemic regions of the Philippines: An ecological study and geographical prediction for 2017', PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol. 13, no. 6, pp. e0007494-.
  • Owada, K, Nielsen, M, Lau, C et al 2019, 'Determinants of spatial heterogeneity of functional illiteracy among school-aged children in the Philippines: An ecological study', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 16, no. 137, pp. 22pp.
  • Aubry, M, Kama, M, Vanhomwegen, J et al 2019, 'Ross River Virus Antibody Prevalence, Fiji Islands, 2013–2015', Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 827-830pp.
  • Dhewantara, P, Lau, C, Allan, K et al 2019, 'Spatial epidemiological approaches to inform leptospirosis surveillance and control: A systematic review and critical appraisal of methods', Zoonoses and Public Health, vol. 66, no. 2, pp. 1-22.
  • Wangdi, K, Kasturiaratchi, K, Vaz Nery, S et al 2019, 'Diversity of infectious aetiologies of acute undifferentiated febrile illnesses in south and Southeast Asia: A systematic review', BMC Infectious Diseases, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 1-17.
  • Owada, K, Lau, C, Leonardo, L et al 2018, 'Spatial distribution and populations at risk of A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura co-infections and infection intensity classes: an ecological study', Parasites and Vectors, vol. 11, no. 535, pp. 13pp.
  • Mayfield, H, Smith, C, Lowry, J et al 2018, 'Predictive risk mapping of an environmentally-driven infectious disease using spatial Bayesian networks: A case study of leptospirosis in Fiji', PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol. 12, no. 10, pp. 1-16.
  • Kucharski, A, Kama, M, Watson, C et al 2018, 'Using paired serology and surveillance data to quantify dengue transmission and control during a large outbreak in Fiji', eLife, vol. 7, pp. -.
  • XU, S, Graves, P, Lau, C et al 2018, 'GEOFIL: A spatially-explicit agent-based modelling framework for predicting the long-term transmission dynamics of lymphatic filariasis in American Samoa', Epidemics: the journal of infectious disease dynamics, vol. 27, pp. 19-27.
  • Guernier, V, Goarant, C, Benschop, J et al 2018, 'A systematic review of human and animal leptospirosis in the Pacific Islands reveals pathogen and reservoir diversity', PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol. 12, no. 5, pp. 1-32.
  • XU, S, Lau, C, Zhou, X et al 2018, 'The extensive networks of frequent population mobility in the Samoan Islands and their implications for infectious disease transmission', Scientific Reports, vol. 8, no. 10136, pp. 1-11.
  • Sheel, M, Sheridan, S, Gass, K et al 2018, 'Identifying residual transmission of lymphatic filariasis after mass drug administration: Comparing school-based versus community-based surveillance - American Samoa, 2016', PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol. 12, no. 7, pp. 1-11.
  • de Alwis, R, Watson, C, Nikolay, B et al 2018, 'Role of Environmental Factors in Shaping Spatial Distribution of Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhi, Fij', Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 284-293.
  • Lau, C, Townell, N, Stephenson, E et al 2018, 'Leptospirosis: An important zoonosis acquired through work, play and travel', Australian Journal of General Practice, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 105-110pp.
  • Flies, E, Lau, C, Carver, S et al 2018, 'Another Emerging Mosquito-Borne Disease? Endemic Ross River Virus Transmission in the Absence of Marsupial Reservoirs', BioScience, vol. 68, no. 4, pp. 288-293pp.
  • Mayfield, H, Lowry, J, Watson, C et al 2018, 'Use of geographically weighted logistic regression to quantify spatial variation in the environmental and sociodemographic drivers of leptospirosis in Fiji: a modelling study', The Lancet Planetary Health, vol. 2, no. 5, pp. e223-e232.
  • Assoum, M, Ortu, G, Basáñez, M et al 2017, 'Spatiotemporal distribution and population at risk of soil-transmitted helminth infections following an eight-year school-based deworming programme in Burundi, 2007-2014', Parasites and Vectors, vol. 10, pp. 1-12pp.
  • XU, S, Glass, K, Lau, C et al 2017, 'A synthetic population for modelling the dynamics of infectious disease transmission in American Samoa Scientific Reports', Scientific Reports, vol. 7, pp. 16725 (9pp).
  • Watson, C, Coriakula, J, Ngoc, D et al 2017, 'Social mixing in Fiji: Who-eats-with-whom contact patterns and the implications of age and ethnic heterogeneity for disease dynamics in the Pacific Islands', PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science), vol. 12, no. 12, pp. e0186911.
  • Lau, C, Mayfield, H, Lowry, J et al 2017, 'Unravelling infectious disease eco-epidemiology using Bayesian networks and scenario analysis: A case study of leptospirosis in Fiji', Environmental Modelling and Software, vol. 97, pp. 271-286.
  • Lau, C, Sheridan, S, Ryan, S et al 2017, 'Detecting and confirming residual hotspots of lymphatic filariasis transmission in American Samoa 8 years after stopping mass drug administration', PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol. 11, no. 9, pp. e0005914.
  • Lau, C, Aubry, M, Musso, D et al 2017, 'New evidence for endemic circulation of Ross River virus in the Pacific Islands and the potential for emergence', International Journal of Infectious diseases, vol. 57, pp. 73-76.
  • Coutts, S, King, J, Pa'au, M et al 2017, 'Prevalence and risk factors associated with lymphatic filariasis in American Samoa after mass drug administration', Tropical Medicine and Health, vol. 45, no. 22, pp. 1-10pp.
  • Watson, C, Baker, S, Lau, C et al 2017, 'A cross-sectional seroepidemiological survey of typhoid fever in Fiji', PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol. 11, no. 7, pp. e0005786-e0005786.
  • Furuya-Kanamori, L, Mills, D, Sheridan, S et al 2017, 'Medical and psychological problems faced by young Australian gap year travellers', Journal of Travel Medicine, vol. 24, no. 5, pp. 1-5pp..
  • Huang, X, Lambert, S, Lau, C et al 2017, 'Assessing the social and environmental determinants of pertussis epidemics in Queensland, Australia: a Bayesian spatio-temporal analysis', Epidemiology and Infection, vol. 145, no. 6, pp. 1221-1230.
  • Lau, C, Sweet, M & Weinstein, P 2017, 'A stitch in time: unrecognized retained foreign bodies after a needlefish injury', Journal of Travel Medicine, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 1-3.
  • Owada, K, Clements, A, Lau, C et al 2017, 'Measuring the Effect of Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections on Cognitive Function in Children: Systematic Review and Critical Appraisal of Evidence', Advances in Parasitology, vol. Online, pp. -.
  • Ryu, S, Lau, C & Chun, B 2017, 'The impact of Livestock Manure Control Policy on human leptospirosis in Republic of Korea using interrupted time series analysis', Epidemiology and Infection, vol. 145, no. 7, pp. 1320-1325pp.
  • Lau, C 2016, 'Human Leptospirosis in Oceania', in Alex Loukas (ed.), Neglected Tropical Diseases - Oceania, Springer International Publishing Switzerland, Switzerland, pp. 177-192pp.
  • Lau, C, Musso, D, Fournier, P et al 2016, 'Absence of serological evidence of Rickettsia spp., Bartonella spp., Ehrlichia spp. and Coxiella burnetii infections in American Samoa', Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, vol. 7, no. 5, pp. 703-705.
  • Ortu, G, Assoum, M, Wittmann, U et al 2016, 'The impact of an 8-year mass drug administration programme on prevalence, intensity and co-infections of soil-transmitted helminthiases in Burundi', Parasites and Vectors, vol. 9, no. 513, pp. 17pp.
  • Lau, C, Won, K, Lammie, P et al 2016, 'Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination in American Samoa: Evaluation of Molecular Xenomonitoring as a Surveillance Tool in the Endgame', PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol. 10, no. 11, pp. e0005108-e0005108.
  • Trembizki, E, Wand, H, Donovan, B et al 2016, 'The Molecular Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Resistance of Neisseria gonorrhoeae in Australia: A Nationwide Cross-Sectional Study, 2012', Clinical Infectious Diseases, vol. 63, no. 12, pp. 1591-1598.
  • Lau, C & Smith, C 2016, 'BAYESIAN NETWORKS IN INFECTIOUS DISEASE ECO EPIDEMIOLOGY', Reviews on Environmental Health, vol. 31, no. 1, Sp. Iss. SI, pp. 173-177.
  • David, M, Ha, S, Paynter, S et al 2015, 'A systematic review and meta-analysis of management options for adults who respond poorly to hepatitis B vaccination', Vaccine, vol. 33, no. 48, pp. 6564-6569.
  • Derne, B, Weinstein, P & Lau, C 2015, 'Wetlands as Sites of Exposure to Water-Borne Infectious Diseases', in C Max Finlayson, Pierre Horwitz, Philip Weinstein (ed.), Wetlands and Human Health, Springer Netherlands, Netherlands, pp. 45-74pp.
  • Faddy, H, Seed, C, Lau, C et al 2015, 'Antibodies to Leptospira among blood donors in higher-risk areas of Australia: Possible implications for transfusion safety', Blood Transfusion, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 32-36.
  • Lau, C, Weinstein, P & Slaney, D 2014, 'The Importance of Surveillance for Informing Pretravel Medical Advice: Imported Malaria in New Zealand 1997-2009', Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 134-140.
  • Lau, C & Hohl, N 2013, 'Immunogenicity of a modified intradermal pre-exposure rabies vaccination schedule using a purified chick embryo cell vaccine: An observational study', Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, vol. 11, no. 6, pp. 427-430.
  • Lau, C, Dobson, A, Smythe, L et al 2012, 'Leptospirosis in American Samoa 2010: Epidemiology, environmental drivers, and the management of emergence', American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, vol. 86, no. 2, pp. 309-319.
  • Lau, C, Skelly, C, Smythe, L et al 2012, 'Emergence of new leptospiral serovars in American Samoa - ascertainment or ecological change?', BMC Infectious Diseases, vol. 12, no. 19, pp. -.
  • Lau, C, Weinstein, P & Slaney, D 2012, 'Imported cases of Ross River virus disease in New Zealand - A travel medicine perspective', Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 129-134.
  • Lau, C, Mills, D & Weinstein, P 2012, 'Response to letter', Journal of Travel Medicine, vol. 19, no. 2, p. 136.
  • Lau, C, Clements, A, Skelly, C et al 2012, 'Leptospirosis in American Samoa - estimating and mapping risk using environmental data', PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol. 6, no. 5, pp. e1669-e1669.
  • Lau, C & DePasquale, J 2012, 'Leptospirosis diagnostic challenges, American Samoa', Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 18, no. 12, pp. 2079-2081.
  • Mills, D, Lau, C & Weinstein, P 2011, 'Animal bites and rabies exposure in Australian travellers', Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 195, no. 11-12, pp. 673-675.
  • Mills, D, Lau, C, Fearnley, E et al 2011, 'The immunogenicity of a modified intradermal pre-exposure rabies vaccination schedule-a case series of 420 travelers', Journal of Travel Medicine, vol. 18, no. 5, pp. 327-332.
  • Craig, S, Lau, C, Tulsaini, S et al 2011, 'Leptospirosis', Australian Family Physician, vol. 40, no. 1-2, pp. 9-9.
  • Derne, B, Fearnley, E, Lau, C et al 2011, 'Biodiversity and leptospirosis risk: A case of pathogen regulation?', Medical Hypotheses, vol. 77, no. 3, pp. 339-344.
  • Lau, C, Smythe, L & Weinstein, P 2010, 'Leptospirosis: An emerging disease in travellers', Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 33-39.
  • Lau, C & Weinstein, P 2010, 'Flooding and infectious disease in rural children: Can intervention mitigate predicted increases in disease burden?', International Public Health Journal, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 393-404.
  • Tulsaini, S, Lau, C, Graham, G et al 2010, 'Emerging tropical diseases in Australia. Part 1. Leptospirosis', Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, vol. 104, no. 7, pp. 543-556.
  • Lau, C, Smythe, L, Craig, S et al 2010, 'Climate change, flooding, urbanisation and leptospirosis: Fuelling the fire?', Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, vol. 104, no. 10, pp. 631-638.
  • Lau, C & Sisson, J 2002, 'The effectiveness of intradermal pre-exposure rabies vaccination in an Australian travel medicine clinic', Journal of Travel Medicine, vol. 9, no. 6, pp. 285-288.
  • Lau, C, Watson, C, Lowry, J et al 2016, 'Human Leptospirosis Infection in Fiji: An Eco-epidemiological Approach to Identifying Risk Factors and Environmental Drivers for Transmission', PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. (25 pp).
  • Lau, C, Streeton, C, David, M et al 2016, 'The tolerability of a combined hepatitis A and typhoid vaccine in children aged 2-16 years: an observational study', Journal of Travel Medicine, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. (8 pp).
  • Lau, C, Skelly, C, Dohnt, M et al 2015, 'The emergence of Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar Arborea in Queensland, Australia, 2001 to 2013', BMC Infectious Diseases, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 1-11.
  • Derne, B, Weinstein, P, Musso, D et al 2015, 'Distribution of rickettsioses in Oceania: Past patterns and implications for the future', Acta Tropica, vol. 143, pp. 121-133.
  • Lau, C, Won, K, Becker, L et al 2014, 'Seroprevalence and Spatial Epidemiology of Lymphatic Filariasis in American Samoa after Successful Mass Drug Administration', PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol. 8, no. 11, pp. 1-12.
  • Lau, C, Weinstein, P & Slaney, D 2013, 'Dengue surveillance by proxy: Travellers as sentinels for outbreaks in the Pacific Islands', Epidemiology and Infection, vol. 141, no. 11, pp. 2328-2334.
  • Duncombe, J, Lau, C, Weinstein, P et al 2013, 'Seroprevalence of dengue in American Samoa, 2010', Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 325-326.