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CFIA introduces changes to program managing Plum Pox Virus


April 16, 2022
By Canadian Food Inspection Agency

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For commercial facilities handling nursery stock within the Plum Pox Virus (PPV) quarantine area, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a notice regarding changes to the Plum Pox Monitoring and Management Program (PPMMP).

According to the CFIA, the PPMMP was put into place in 2011 to prevent the spread of PPV to unregulated areas through surveillance and movement control of host material. Following a 10-year program review, the CFIA says they are introducing changes to ensure that the resources allocated under the PPMMP better align with identified risks while continuing to allow the CFIA to meet its international obligations for the control of the pest.

Starting in the upcoming 2022 growing season, the following activities will be implemented:

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  • Increased rate of inspection of commercial facilities handling nursery stock within the PPV quarantine area (such as nurseries, retail centers, landscaping companies) in an effort to expand awareness of movement restrictions and prevent the movement of regulated articles from the PPV quarantine area
  • Risk-based inspection of residential properties in key areas along the boundary lines of the PPV quarantine area and of other properties based on risk and compliance history
  • Development of a more comprehensive outreach strategy to strengthen the public’s awareness of the pest and the restrictions within the PPV quarantine area

The most critical components of the PPMMP, such as the perimeter sampling and orchard propagation inspections, remain unchanged and existing CFIA directives D-08-04 and D-99-07 are still current and active.

The Plum Pox Virus (PPV) quarantine area covers portions of the Niagara Region and the City of Hamilton, in Ontario.

This notice also affects homeowners residing within this zone, where a propagation ban and movement restrictions of host material are currently in place.

About PPV

Plum pox virus is a serious plant disease infecting stone fruit species of the genus Prunus including peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, almonds and ornamental varieties such as purple-leaf sandcherry and flowering almond.

PPV does not kill trees, but can drastically reduce yields and is transmitted from infected trees by aphids or by grafting or budding.

PPV does not affect human or animal health.

Symptoms of PPV may include chlorotic ring spots on leaves and fruit, fruit deformity, decrease in fruit yield as well as early fruit drop. The symptoms are easiest to detect in the spring.

Visual symptoms are not always a reliable indicator of disease. The disease may not be visible until several months or years after the tree has been infected. However, PPV can also be detected by laboratory analysis of tissue samples or by grafting test material onto highly susceptible hosts and monitoring for the development of symptoms.

The two main pathways by which PPV is spread are aphid feeding and propagation or multiplication of infected material. Propagation and multiplication activities include budding and grafting. PPV cannot be spread by mechanical means such as pruning.

Aphids acquire the virus during feeding and then spread it to healthy plants. Aphids can only transmit PPV for a short period of time after acquiring the virus. The virus can survive in roots and may be spread by natural root grafting. Root suckers produced from the remaining roots of rogued infected trees may contain the virus and should be removed.

There is no treatment for PPV and once a tree has become infected the only way to prevent spread and destroy the virus is to remove the tree and its roots. The use of virus-free propagative material at all times is crucial in preventing introduction to new areas.

For more information, see the Notice to Industry.