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 disease epidemiologyEco-epidemiology of leptospirosisLymphatic filariasis eliminationSpatial epidemiologyEnvironmental healthClinical travel medicine


  • 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.
  • Aubry, M, Kama, M, Henderson, A et al 2020, 'Low chikungunya virus seroprevalence two years after emergence in Fiji', International Journal of Infectious diseases, vol. 90, no. 0, pp. 223-225.
  • Foxlee, N, Townell, N, Tosul, M et al 2020, 'Bacteriology and Antimicrobial Resistance in Vanuatu: January 2017 to December 2019', Antibiotics, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. -.
  • Furuya Kanamori, L, Stone, J, Yakob, L et al 2020, 'Risk factors for acquisition of multidrug-resistant Enterobacterales among international travellers: a synthesis of cumulative evidence', Journal of Travel Medicine, vol. 27, no. 1.
  • Henderson, A, Aubry, M, Kama, M et al 2020, 'Zika seroprevalence declines and neutralizing antibodies wane in adults following outbreaks in french polynesia and fiji', eLife, vol. 9, no. e48460, pp. 1-17.
  • Graves, P, Sheridan, S, Fuimaono, S et al 2020, 'Demographic, socioeconomic and disease knowledge factors, but not population mobility, associated with lymphatic filariasis infection in adult workers in American Samoa in 2014', Parasites and Vectors, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. -.
  • Furuya Kanamori, L, Lau, C, Banks, S et al 2020, 'Impact of pre-departure preparation on the health and wellbeing of Australian gap year travellers [IN PRESS]', Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, pp. -.
  • Togami, E, Gyawali, N, Ong, O et al 2020, 'First evidence of concurrent enzootic and endemic transmission of
    Ross River virus in the absence of marsupial reservoirs in Fiji', International Journal of Infectious diseases, vol. 96, no. 2020, pp. 94-96.
  • Kama, M, Aubry, M, Naivalu, T et al 2019, 'Sustained Low-Level Transmission of Zika and Chikungunya Viruses after Emergence in the Fiji Islands', Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 25, no. 8, pp. 1535-1538.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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, 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, 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, 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.