A number of citrus trees in Malta have been infected with a deadly virus, a surveillance programme has found. The infected trees, originating from Sicily, were discovered in various garden centres following sampling and testing. The monitoring was carried out by the Plant Health Directorate within the Parliamentary Secretariat for Agriculture with the objective of monitoring the status of pest occurrence.
The directorate activated the contingency plan and carried out the destruction of the infected consignments. To ensure the eradication of this pest, the public is being asked to notify the directorate of any purchase of citrus trees in the last six months.
The Citrus Tristeza Virus is the most destructive citrus disease worldwide. The most recent outbreak dates back to 2012 when an area in San Blas and Daħlet Qorrot Valleys in Gozo was demarcated.
The virus cannot be controlled by pesticides, and the only control mechanism for this disease is that of uprooting and burning infected trees and applying pesticides for the vectors.