According to the FAO, bananas are the eighth most important food crop in the world and the fourth most important food crop among the world's least-developed countries. Through trade and supply, bananas make up a global $8.9 billion trade industry.
Bananas are grown in more than 150 countries, which produce 105 million tons of fruit per year, while employing hundreds of thousands pf people. The U.S. is the top importer of bananas in the world at nearly 4 million tons a year. The European Union is a close second. The largest exporters of the fruit are Ecuador, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Colombia.
Panama disease, or Fusarium wilt as it's also called, has been around for decades and can strike crops such as tobacco and tomatoes as well as bananas.
Read MoreFarming in America: 'There's a growing discontent'
The TR4 strain, while not a danger to humans, is found in the soil and can remain active for decades, but it cannot be fully controlled by fungicides. The best way to fight the disease, according Ploetz, is to prevent its spread, which includes avoiding movement of diseased plant materials and infected soil.
As for it coming to Central and South America, at least one analyst on the scene is not too worried at this point.
"I see a lot of people stressed...and we're monitoring the situation, but I think it may be a bit overblown," said Lianne Zoeteweij, general manager of AsoGuabo, a banana farm cooperative in Ecuador.
"We have concern yes, but I think the warnings of bananas disappearing is too much," she said in a phone call with CNBC.