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Control and monitoring: monitoring and eradication of sharka in south-east Italy over 15 years



When the first foci of sharka were discovered in Puglia region (south-east Italy) in the late 1980s, the regional agricultural authorities launched a programme for Plum pox virus (PPV) monitoring and disease eradication. The infecting virus strain was identified as PPV-D. From 1989 to 1993, a strong eradication campaign was successfully carried out involving 13 plum and 2 apricot orchards with different levels of infection. During 1994–2000, besides plum, apricot and peach, monitoring was extended to sweet cherry. At that time, surveys and testing did not reveal any new PPV focus, but the eradication of infected trees continued in a couple of orchards. In 2001–05, particular attention was paid to peach, as devastating PPV-M outbreaks had developed in other areas of the country. A new PPV focus was found in apricot, caused by PPV-Rec, which was promptly eradicated. In the following two years, surveys in the once infected orchard and surrounding peach plantings did not detect any virus spread. The endeavour has taken 15 years making this PPV monitoring and eradication programme the longest in Italy. Its overall results indicate that the fruit tree industry in Puglia region can now be regarded as essentially PPV-free.