Deadly citrus disease Huanglongbing detected in La Habra

LA HABRA, Calif. (KABC) -- Inspectors from the California Department of Food and Agriculture were going home-to-home inspecting trees after a devastating citrus disease was detected in La Habra.

Huanglongbing, or HLB, is not harmful to humans, but can kill citrus plants.

"If this continues to spread this could destroy the citrus industry of California," said Orange County Agriculture Commissioner Jeff Croy.

A routine survey by the state found one tree in La Habra with HLB and two insects with the bacteria in Anaheim.

"This bacteria is a disease that will kill the citrus tree, there is no cure. It's 100 percent kill," Croy explained.

The disease has popped up in Hacienda Heights, San Gabriel and Cerritos in the past.

The state inspectors were looking for any signs of HLB and collected samples to take back to their lab.

"They're working on a treatment method to find any diseased trees and remove those immediately so the disease cannot spread," Croy said.

HLB spreads through tiny bugs called Asian Citrus Psyllid, which are all over Orange County.

"They spread it by landing on a tree that has the disease and then carrying it over just the way the mosquito would carry blood from one victim to another," Croy explained.

Croy said if HLB spreads it could devastate the production of oranges, lemons and limes in the region and potentially the state.

His department is urging people with citrus plants to help experts spot HLB.

"The modeling of the leaves, corky veins, the veins will pop out, the leaves will start turning yellow, the fruit will prematurely drop off," he said.

Anyone who believes their plants may be showing signs of HLB was urged to call the California Department of Food and Agriculture Pest Hotline, at 1-800-491-1899.
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