The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recommended an integrated system approach to containing an outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa, otherwise known as ‘Pierce’s disease’ or ‘phoney peach disease’, that began in southern Italy in October.
The recommendation follows an assistance request from the European Commission after the disease was found on olive trees in Apulia in the Lecce province.
While noting that no successful eradication of the disease has ever been achieved once it has been established outdoors, the EFSA emphasized a focus was needed on two main pathways in containment areas – plants for planting and infective insects in plant consignments.
“All xylem-fluid feeding insects in Europe should be regarded as potential vectors of X. fastidiosa and identification of the vector in the Apulian outbreak is pending,” an EFSA abstract said.
“The main entry pathway for X. fastidiosa is the movement of plants for planting. Infective vectors of X. fastidiosa transported on plant consignments are also of concern.
“The only route for natural spread of X. fastidiosa is by insect vectors that generally fly short distances up to 100 metres, but can be transported by wind over long distance. The movement of infected plants for planting is the most efficient way for long-distance dispersal of X. fastidiosa.”
The authority highlighted it was unable to conduct a comprehensive literature review approach to the problem due to time constraints. As investigations are ongoing, the EFSA has recommended that the host range, vectors, pathways and risk reduction options are further assessed.
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, wollombi