In the United States, this
disease was first encountered in California in 1995. "This appeared
to be a serious but localized problem until March of 2004, when
plants were shipped from some P. ramorum-infected nurseries in
California to other states," said Bruce Paulsrud, U of I Extension
specialist. "Since then, the pathogen has been confirmed in 22
states across the nation, but it has not been found in Illinois or
any other Midwestern state."
Although the pathogen has not been found in Illinois, Paulsrud
warns that it is best to be prepared and learn from experience in
California, where the disease is devastating to trees in the oak
family, as well as many other tree and shrub species.
The Illinois task force includes U of I horticultural and plant
pathology specialists, industry representatives, and officials from
appropriate state and federal regulatory agencies. The mission of
the task force is to develop an Illinois detection and response plan
and to educate various professionals about the symptoms of the
disease, how it spreads and the response protocol.
"A statewide distance education seminar was presented by the
Illinois task force in March of this year," said Monica David, U of
I Master Gardener coordinator. "Consultants, master gardeners and
green industry professionals learned more about sudden oak death and
where to take suspect samples in Illinois."
The "Illinois Sudden Oak Death/P. ramorum Blight Detection and
Response Plan" is available on the University of Illinois Master
Gardener website at
www.extension.uiuc.edu/mg and on the the North Central
Integrated Pest Management Center website at
One definitive source of information about the disease is the
USDA Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection
www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/ispm/pramorum. The USDA site lists 31
known plant hosts and another 37 species that have been associated
with the disease.
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"Some of these species can be grown in Illinois and include Japanese
pieris, Douglas fir, rhododendrons, witchhazels, viburnums, beeches
and lilacs," says David.
Throughout the 2005 growing season,
University of Illinois Extension will monitor the situation in
Illinois and report findings in the Home, Yard and Garden Pest
Newsletter. For a printed or online subscription, call (800)
345-6087 or go to
The first positive case of sudden oak death in Illinois must be
confirmed through the University of Illinois Plant Clinic with help
from the USDA Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
labs in Beltsville, Md.
Nancy Pataky, U of I Plant Clinic director, says to "submit
sudden oak death suspect samples through your local University
Extension digital diagnostic system." She added, "If the digital
image is still suspect, you will be asked to send a sample to the
Plant Clinic with a small fee."
Pataky says the lab cannot handle hundreds of samples at once and
has devised this system to help filter out unnecessary samples. In
April 2004, the Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service issued a federal order to address concerns of the pathogen
moving via nursery stock from California. Quarantines, destruction
of infected plant material and inspections of exported host species
are measures currently in place to help prevent further spread of
"Since our primary control options are limited to quarantine and
destruction, the introduction of this pathogen to Illinois would be
devastating for the affected nurseries, forests and landscapes,"
Paulsrud said. "Everyone in the industry needs to be aware of this
disease and the need for accurate and rapid diagnosis and response."
[University of Illinois news release]