Diseases Easier to Prevent Than to Control

Daniel CooperDiseases

Citrus yellow vein clearing virus is spread through grafting, insect vectors and grove equipment.

Plant pathologist Ozgur Batuman recently warned that two citrus viral diseases not currently in Florida are highly suited to the state’s climate and would likely impact production if found there. They are citrus leprosis and citrus yellow vein clearing virus (CYVCV). Batuman, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences associate professor at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, discussed the viral diseases during a May 21 presentation.

Preventing citrus leprosis and CYVCV from entering Florida is much easier than eradicating or controlling them, Batuman said. He urged growers who suspect they might have either disease in their groves to contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, a University of Florida Extension specialist or himself as soon as possible.


Leprosis, easily confused with citrus canker, was first reported in Florida in the 1860s and was last reported there in 1968.

“Today, leprosis is considered one of the most important emerging citrus diseases,” Batuman stated. He said it causes chlorotic lesions on citrus leaves, fruit, twigs and branches. It leads to premature leaf and fruit drop, decreased foliar area and branch death. Untreated trees eventually die.

Leprosis is spread by Brevipalpus mite species, known as flat mites. The disease is controlled by controlling the mite vectors. 


First discovered in Pakistan in 1968, CYVCV had been restricted to Pakistan, India, Iran, Türkiye and China until its recent detection in California. CYVCV was discovered in California in 2022, it’s first-ever detection in the United States.

The disease infects systemically and causes vein clearing (yellow veins) on young citrus leaves, especially on lemon and sour orange. It is spreading rapidly, causing considerable loss to the lemon industry in many countries. Vectors of CYVCV include aphids, whiteflies, grafting and grove equipment. Batuman said it is essential to avoid bringing propagation materials from areas infected with the virus into Florida. He added that the disease is primarily controlled by controlling the insect vectors and disinfecting grove equipment.

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Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large

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