WASHINGTON D.C.  After two decades the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the United States is now free of the plum pox virus (PPV).

The USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach said different agencies collectively helped eradicate the stone fruit virus.

“Our 20-year fight against plum pox disease is officially over,” Under Secretary Ibach said. “Working with our partners, we’ve eliminated this disease and protected the United States’ $6.3 billion stone fruit industry.”

The USDA is calling the eradication historic.

Plums, almonds, and peaches are some of the stone fruits that were infected by plum pox.  No other countries where plum pox disease is known to occur have successfully eradicated the disease.

The stone fruit virus was first seen in Bulgaria and now reported in Asia, South America, Africa, Canada, and most European Countries.

The first North American plum pox case seen in Pennsylvania in 1999.

The infected trees may show few signs of having the Plum pox virus but yields may be decreased greatly. Chlorotic ring spots appear on the fruit and leaves when the tree is infected.

photo courtesy of USDA

(Photo courtesy of USDA)

There is no treatment for the tree once it has the PPV, the tree has to be dug out including its roots.

PPV does not affect people or animals.

The PPV eradication program was a cooperative effort among USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and a few other government agencies.

For more information you can go to the USDA Invasive Species webpage.