The Citrus Research & Education Institute (CREI) of the CGA has, since 2004, being conducting bi-annual (every 6 months) surveys for exotic diseases, that is, diseases present in the regions but not known to be present in Belize. These diseases have been HLB, citrus canker, leprosis virus and citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC). Belize is the only country in Central America that does not have citrus leprosis virus - a fact attributed to an effective citrus nursery certification programme being operated, by CREI, in the country.
The blue dots on the map (right) represent the sites where, in January 2009 (as in previous years), psyllid samples were collected from citrus trees with leaves with HLB suspect symptoms. These psyllid samples were sent to the laboratory of Dr. Richard Lee and Dr. K. Manjunath at Riverside, University of California, for screening for the presence of HLB. In May 2009, 9 of the samples were returned positive, from the January sampling, for the bacteria Candidatus Liberabacter asiaticus. The HLB-positive samples were obtained from sites in the centre, far north, east and south of Belize. We are, of course, extremely grateful to Drs. Lee and Manjunath for providing these diagnostic services and their continued dedicated support for our work to control the spread of citrus diseases in Belize.
Following the discovery of HLB in Belize, OIRSA (the International Regional Organization for Agricultural Health) declared a regional emergency and released funding to BAHA and CGA for the implementation of a delimiting tree-survey for the presence of HLB - this survey was conducted from May to June 2009.