Myrtle rust find in new region

Date:

Media contact: MPI media team

Telephone: 029 8940328

Email: media@mpi.govt.nz

A positive detection of myrtle rust has been made in the Waikato region.

The fungal plant disease was identified in a small number of plants at a nursery in Te Kuiti. The new location was found as a result of MPI tracing sales of plants from another positive nursery.

MPI has personnel on the ground in Te Kuiti and restrictions are in place on the movement of risk goods from the property. The property will be treated with fungicide.

As with all other finds to date, MPI will continue to search surrounding areas for signs of the fungus.

This new find, along with a further 3 properties in Taranaki, brings the total number of confirmed infected properties to 16 nationally.

The majority of properties are in Taranaki with just 2 confirmed in Northland and the one new Waikato find.

The disease causing fungus has been found at a mix of properties including nurseries, plant retailers and distributors, an orchard and private gardens.

MPI is receiving unprecedented support from members of the public, with some 420 reports of suspected symptoms to its 0800 number.

Of those reports, a small percentage require sampling and testing. The Ministry is able to distinguish the highest risk reports from photographs. Myrtle rust only affects plants in the myrtle family, so any rust symptoms on other plants can immediately be discounted.

MPI thanks people for their vigilance in this situation. Their reports are helping to build a picture of where the rust is present and inform plans being made for the future management of the fungus.

The Ministry continues its effort to try to contain the rust at infected properties, but is also realistic that this is a huge challenge and New Zealanders may have to learn to live with it.

People can report any suspected signs of myrtle rust to MPI's Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66. Do not touch the rust or the plant. Note the location and take photos of the symptoms and the plant.

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