A 93-square-mile quarantine area centered in Hacienda Heights has been established in hopes of containing the state's first case of a bacterial disease that poses a strong risk to citrus trees, the California Department of Food and Agriculture announced today.
The quarantine area is centered near the Pomona (60) Freeway and extends south to Orange County, north into Baldwin Park and West Covina, west to South El Monte and Whittier and east to Walnut and Rowland Heights. CDFA officials said the quarantine is expected to remain in place for at least two years, which is the latency period for the development of disease symptoms in an infected tree.
The quarantine prevents the movement of nursery stock out of the affected area, with exceptions for commercially cleaned and packed fruit. Any other fruit in the area, including citrus from residents' trees, may not be removed from the property on which it is grown, although it may be consumed on site, according to CDFA.
"The success of any quarantine depends on cooperation from those affected," said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. "The stakes couldn't be higher for California citrus. We urge residents in the Hacienda Heights area to do all they can to comply."
The quarantine is in response to the discovery of huanglongbing, or "citrus greening," on a lemon tree in Hacienda Heights.
In warning of the danger of the disease, agricultural officials said it has cost the state of Florida an estimated $3.6 billion in economic activity since it was discovered in 2005. The HLB disease can be transmitted from plant to plant by the flying insect known as the Asian citrus psyllid. The disease attacks the vascular system of plants, but does not pose a threat to people or animals, officials said.
To date, there is no cure for the disease once a tree is infected.
Ground treatment of citrus trees within 800 meters of the original infected tree was expected to begin next week.
The new quarantine area is already part of a larger quarantine area established to control the Asian citrus psyllid, the pest that spreads bacteria causing the disease.