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Sep 23, 2011

Citrus Leprosy detected in Belize

It has been affecting other Central American countries, and for the first time citrus leprosies has been detected in Belize. The first report came in early August when a farmer noticed that his fruits appeared to be rotting. The Citrus Grower’s Association’s research director suspected citrus leprosies and it was later confirmed in lab tests. According to Henry Anderson, the C.E.O. of the CGA, since then the disease has been confirmed in pockets on other farms, BAHA is now working growers to contain the spread.

Via Phone: Henry Anderson, C.E.O., Citrus Growers, Assn.

Henry Anderson

“They did a field visit on August second and did a visual confirmation. We notified BAHA and BAHA personnel came in who are also trained in identifying the disease and Francisco Gutierrez confirmed it visually as well. So samples were taken and sent to the University of Delvalle in Guatemala to get laboratory confirmation that it was citrus leprosies that was affecting the fruits and the leaves from the samples that were taken. And of the seven samples that were taken I believe five of them came up positive. But for the first time in Belize we have detected the presence of citrus leprosy in the country. all of the other country in Central America has the disease so to some extent a matter of time before it gets here. The disease is transmitted by a mite and there can be many ways in which the mite can come here. The mite lives on many different types of trees so it can be from people bringing in plant material that they shouldn’t bring it, it could be on the clothes from workers from neighboring Guatemala who work in the industry. It could be many different ways how it got here but we have confirmed that it is here now.”

Delahnie Bain

“What can be done about it?”

Via Phone: Henry Anderson

“The disease is localized which means that where you see the infection, that is the part of the tree that is being infected. The management of the disease calls for the controlling of the mite and the removing of the fruits that are infected. What it does; the fruit doesn’t spoil per say but the fruit would drop early. So in the case of our industry where we process the fruit, the fruit will drop before it is mature enough to process. So you do mite control, you remove the fruits on the trees that are infected and in some severe case of infestation, you might have to prune the branches of the tree where the infestation is spreading.”

Anderson notes that the disease is manageable and with containment efforts, the losses can be minimized.

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