Outbreak exercise builds preparedness

22 Oct 2018

An exercise designed to improve the NSW citrus industries readiness for an outbreak of serious disease is being held this week.

Exercise Orange Juice is a discussion based exercise that will test the ability of NSW to manage and eradicate citrus canker, a disease with the potential to devastate the NSW industry.

NSW DPI Deputy Director General Food Safety and Biosecurity, Dr Bruce Christie said the proactive, collaborative approach is key to being in control should an outbreak occur in NSW.

“The Northern Territory and Western Australia are currently engaged in efforts to eradicate citrus canker but the disease has yet to be detected in NSW,” he said.

“The disease causes lesions on the leaves, fruit and stems of citrus trees, and while it doesn’t pose a risk to human health the unsightly lesions render fruit worthless.

“Lessons learnt from Exercise Orange Juice will obviously be important to the citrus industry, but they’ll also be important to our efforts to protect the wider $1.4 billion NSW horticulture industry,” Dr Christie said.

The NSW citrus industry is Australia’s largest fresh fruit exporter and is worth approximately $200 million a year.

Spring is when the symptoms of citrus canker are most likely to be manifest and Dr Christie is urging those with backyard citrus trees to inspect their trees and report suspicious symptoms.

“Citrus canker causes small brown blister like lesions and the lesions are often surrounded by oily, water-soaked margins or yellow halos,” he said.

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