Yellowdragon threatens Florida citrus

October 15, 2005

Yellow dragon disease, which is also called citrus greening, has been found in southeast Florida and appears to be spreading, agricultural authorities say.

The bacterium, known by its Chinese name huanglongbing, is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, poses no direct threat to humans, but can be devastating to citrus trees and the industry, The New York Times reported Friday.

The bug was first spotted in Florida in 1998, but the disease was not seen until last August, when it was found in Homestead, south of Miami.

The disease produces discolored fruit with a bitter, medicinal taste, according to Richard Miranda, a spokesman for the state's Department of Agriculture.

"Once the insect feeds on an infected tree, it will be a carrier of the disease for life," Miranda said. "It will spread to other trees. That's the real danger here."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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