A far north Queensland research organisation says authorities are underestimating the risk of tuberculosis (TB) transmission between Papua New Guinea and Australia.

Sheridan Morris from the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre says a Western Province leader is likely to have had a multi drug-resistant form of the disease when he recently attended meetings in Cairns.

A nurse at Daru Hospital in PNG also recently contracted a drug-resistant form of the disease.

Ms Morris says while efforts are being made to improve the diagnosis and treatment of TB in PNG, some Queensland communities are vulnerable.

"Given that there was something like 53,000 exchanges between PNG and Australia, citizens or traditional inhabitants moving between Australia and PNG last year, there is often and frequent interaction so how much we know about what's going on I think is somewhat limited," she said.

She says TB is not confined to overcrowded housing in poor areas of PNG's Western Province.

"We're pretty concerned because this really means that it's moved right into the more urban side of this region," she said.